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December 03, 2006

Mr. Rumsfeld's Memo.

Let's leave aside the issues of governance by leak, etc. Apparently, once you reach a certain level, leaking classified information is a promotion criteria. Until you reach that level, you get to at least get fired, and sometimes go to jail. I never made it to the top, obviously, because the thought of leaking classified material, even inadvertently, makes this blog a far different thing than it could be. (However briefly, before I got to go reside in the Big House.)

Rumsfeld's memo as published by the NYT (I'm thinking there's no copyright violation here by me...)

Nov. 6, 2006

SUBJECT: Iraq — Illustrative New Courses of Action

The situation in Iraq has been evolving, and U.S. forces have adjusted, over time, from major combat operations to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence. In my view it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough. Following is a range of options:


Above the Line: (Many of these options could and, in a number of cases, should be done in combination with others)

¶Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi Government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).

¶Significantly increase U.S. trainers and embeds, and transfer more U.S. equipment to Iraqi Security forces (ISF), to further accelerate their capabilities by refocusing the assignment of some significant portion of the U.S. troops currently in Iraq.

¶Initiate a reverse embeds program, like the Korean Katusas, by putting one or more Iraqi soldiers with every U.S. and possibly Coalition squad, to improve our units’ language capabilities and cultural awareness and to give the Iraqis experience and training with professional U.S. troops.

¶Aggressively beef up the Iraqi MOD and MOI, and other Iraqi ministries critical to the success of the ISF — the Iraqi Ministries of Finance, Planning, Health, Criminal Justice, Prisons, etc. — by reaching out to U.S. military retirees and Reserve/National Guard volunteers (i.e., give up on trying to get other USG Departments to do it.)

¶Conduct an accelerated draw-down of U.S. bases. We have already reduced from 110 to 55 bases. Plan to get down to 10 to 15 bases by April 2007, and to 5 bases by July 2007.

¶Retain high-end SOF capability and necessary support structure to target Al Qaeda, death squads, and Iranians in Iraq, while drawing down all other Coalition forces, except those necessary to provide certain key enablers for the ISF.

¶Initiate an approach where U.S. forces provide security only for those provinces or cities that openly request U.S. help and that actively cooperate, with the stipulation being that unless they cooperate fully, U.S. forces would leave their province.

¶Stop rewarding bad behavior, as was done in Fallujah when they pushed in reconstruction funds, and start rewarding good behavior. Put our reconstruction efforts in those parts of Iraq that are behaving, and invest and create havens of opportunity to reward them for their good behavior. As the old saying goes, “If you want more of something, reward it; if you want less of something, penalize it.” No more reconstruction assistance in areas where there is violence.

¶Position substantial U.S. forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and, importantly, reduce Iranian influence on the Iraqi Government.

¶Withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions — cities, patrolling, etc. — and move U.S. forces to a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.

¶Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start “taking our hand off the bicycle seat”), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country.

¶Provide money to key political and religious leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period.

¶Initiate a massive program for unemployed youth. It would have to be run by U.S. forces, since no other organization could do it.

¶Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis. This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not “lose.”

¶Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist.

Below the Line (less attractive options):

¶Continue on the current path.

¶Move a large fraction of all U.S. Forces into Baghdad to attempt to control it.

¶Increase Brigade Combat Teams and U.S. forces in Iraq substantially.

¶Set a firm withdrawal date to leave. Declare that with Saddam gone and Iraq a sovereign nation, the Iraqi people can govern themselves. Tell Iran and Syria to stay out.

¶Assist in accelerating an aggressive federalism plan, moving towards three separate states — Sunni, Shia, and Kurd.

¶Try a Dayton-like process.

Nothing wrong with the thoughts of the boss as he's trying to figure out what to do.

But this passage is just depressing.

¶Aggressively beef up the Iraqi MOD and MOI, and other Iraqi ministries critical to the success of the ISF — the Iraqi Ministries of Finance, Planning, Health, Criminal Justice, Prisons, etc. — by reaching out to U.S. military retirees and Reserve/National Guard volunteers (i.e., give up on trying to get other USG Departments to do it.)

(i.e., give up on trying to get other USG Departments to do it.)

This is a corner the Secretary painted himself into, with his seemingly cavalier disregard for other USG agencies in the early days of OEF and OIF.

This is a corner the US Gov painted itself into, when agencies of the government set themselves above the President and his policy pronouncements, and, in effect, rebel, whether overtly or passive-agressively. A refusal to wear the adult pants, but rather to wear the petulant adolescent pants.

And that, ultimately, rests on the shoulders of the President and his appointees, for the failure to really clean that up. Sigh.

Which does not relieve the employees of their duty to do the job they've been told to do, once the decision has been made.

But like I said, because I think like that (among other things) is why I'm not trotting about amongst 'em.


Comments on Mr. Rumsfeld's Memo.
John S. briefed on December 3, 2006 12:52 PM

SECDEF Rumsfeld clearly sees, understands, and plans for the long term and big picture of dealing with the threat of radical Islam. Although this memo deals with Iraq specific issues, remember that he and the DOD have been, and will be engaged around the world for the foreseeable future. The goal is victory, and keeping the fight in Kabul, Kirkuk and the far away homes of the Islamists, instead of foolishly retreating to CONUS and waiting for the suicide bombers in Kansa City, Atlanta or elsewhere. Of course, the bad guy's most fervent wish, and our most horrific scenario is for them to acquire nuke capability and take out DC, or New York, or San Diego, or all of them.
Our actions in Iraq must be dealt with as part of the larger clash of civilizations, with the goal of massive cultural changes in the regions that harbor Islamist extremism, destroying its foundations and replacing it with the concepts and advantages of freedom.
Winning this requires more than cheap shot political sniping, or leaking classified materials to undercut our leaders. It requires a united country, unshakable resolve and a commitment for the long haul. This will last years, or more likely decades, and is not the time for the weak, opportunistic politicians. Hoping the threat will leave us alone, or that the suicide-seeking 12th Imam crowd in Iran with nukes will never use them is delusional.
Serious stuff, indeed. Sadly, we seem to lack serious leadership in Congress, the media, and perhaps even in the White House. Rumsfeld has led our defense well since 9-11-2001, but there is a vacuum of future leadership that will read, think, lead and win.
Our brave and successful troops are doing everything asked of them, and they need and deserve better, and so do the rest of Americans, and indeed Western Civilization.
The Democrats, may have won their political battle, but are no the verge of losing the unbelievably vital war(s) we are engaged in now, and in the near future. North Korea, the threats to Israel, and indeed, China also are part of the mix.
Interesting times, indeed.

Oldloadr briefed on December 3, 2006 07:46 PM

“…reaching out to U.S. military retirees…” The system doesn’t know how to reach out to retirees except to hire us indirectly as contractors and then pay us a sinful amount of money and then wonder why the effort is so expensive. The DoD could have saved a lot of money and bad press (concerning FWA [Fraud, Waste & Abuse] in the contracting area) if they had invited all retirees to come back on active duty and use their expertise wherever it was needed regardless of branch of service. This would have been cheaper and more efficient than paying contractors enough money to get them to deploy to a war zone. Maybe the new guy will think of this instead of such a heavy dependence on expensive contracts. There is nothing a contractor is doing in Iraq that there are not plenty of retirees trained to perform that task. As I mentioned earlier, many of the contractors working in Iraq are retirees. The project I just left was over half retirees, but here’s the catch; working as contractors we came from every branch of service as we were recruited by the companies based on our skill sets. I don’t know if the Armed Services could set aside their parochial attitudes in order to field such a unit. But if they could and if they could sell the idea to the retiree community, they could save a gazillion dollars and tell KBR to go p*** up a rope.

John of Argghhh! briefed on December 4, 2006 04:35 AM

Oldloadr - And we'd get campaign ribbons... which, if you're really honest with yourself, many of us would rather have than fat paychecks.

Because of what they mean. And who we are.

Oldloadr briefed on December 4, 2006 08:36 AM

John - Absolutely! In fact, when I deployed on active duty I was happy with the tax break and hostile fire pay, especially since I did get the campaign medals (and VFW membership). But then, I always looked at military service as just that... service. I never expected to get rich and didn't care that others in our society were getting rich. I'm not being a martyr, I just believed that if GIs got paid like pro atheletes, it would take something away from the idea of service... I guess I'm waxing Quijotic. Anyway, I made a lot more money as a contractor, but I would have preferred to have been in uniform wearing my stripes.

David A briefed on December 4, 2006 01:00 PM

I like the suggestion
"Assist in accelerating an aggressive federalism plan, moving towards three separate states — Sunni, Shia, and Kurd."

Of course, the ones with oil in their area will not like this arrangement. So I suppose it's a weak proposal in that regard. It would breed instability. But the political boundaries that are Iraq make no sense.

ry briefed on December 4, 2006 07:30 PM

(This is going to sound harsh, but think before you take out the bats to thump this baby seal).
Would taking retirees back be such a good idea? I don't think so. What happens when the lot of you come back with lots of rank and your own ideas about things?

Except for the cost I like the way things are working now, inefficiency and all. We get the benefit of your expertise while not having to: a) go thru another bit of forced separation when hostilities end; b) mess with the command structure/Unity of Command Issues(if your purpose is to be the contrary how can you do that when on active duty you have to toe-the-line?) c) long term budget effects (yeah, those benefits add up and effect the services in ways that affects future readiness---it all comes from the same Congressional money pile).

As a contractor you still get to put your expertise to the good. You get to be contrary to the way things are done and have other avenues of advancing those ideas without both boots coming down on you from above(or having Whoever Sits Above circular file it because of its contrary to their wishes nature).

And then, 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'. Is it broken? Then don't f with it. Get your input in as best you can, but accept that you best serve where you're at now.

Oldloadr briefed on December 5, 2006 08:13 AM

ry - Most of your points are subjective so therefore your opinion is as good as mine, I suppose. However, there is one point I would like to mention that is somewhat in error: "... long term budget effects (yeah, those benefits add up..." That is actually where retirees are the most cost-affective since we already have the benefits for ourselves and our dependents. The only thing that would change is I would not pay $460/year for Tricare while on active duty. Most call ups are for 2 year tours so the odds of anybody being promoted (if their service would even consider them) are out there so the only out-year change would be a few dollars more in retirement based on qualifying for a higher percentage.
On the subject of speaking your mind, I did not feel any more or less free to speak up as a contractor then I did on active duty, but what I did feel is less empowered to influence decisions above my pay grade. It seemed like every technical input I made to senior management that was eventually adopted was like pushing a noodle. However, that was my personal experience and I could not in any way quantify that for the entire theater. That's why I'm not arguing vigorously on this point.

ry briefed on December 6, 2006 06:23 PM

Fair enough Loader. We academic punks sometimes need to cross the street and talk to the rank and file sometimes.

"the only out-year change would be a few dollars more in retirement based on qualifying for a higher percentage." But this is exactly what I am talking about. How many people are we talking about here? A few hundred? A few thousand? Ten Thousand? What's a 3% incease in retirement pay look like for a few thousand people?

Yeah, it is opinion. Reasoned opinion, but still opinion.

John of Argghhh! briefed on December 6, 2006 08:38 PM

Ry - a couple of points.

1. If I go an active duty again, I will accrue retirement credit at 2.5% a year. And when I re-retire, that will bump up my retired pay - but calculated based on my original retirement date. In other words, while my month-to-month paycheck would be at the current rates, my retired check bump would be based on my 2000 pay scale.

2. The actual number is business sensitive, but to get me over there as a contractor, at exactly my current pay, would cost a minimum (and that's *really* a minimum) of 1.5 times what I actually see. Minimum.

I'd have to sit down with a spreadsheet, but a two year stint would add about, oh, 3600 a year to my retired pay.

With what you'd pay my firm to hire me as a contractor, without going into real details, it would take 25 years or so for the bump in my retired pay to match the extra you're going to pay upfront in today's dollars for my services as a contractor. For the First Year.

Or about 50 years for the two years. My family tends to long life, but only one of us has made it to 100.

ry briefed on December 7, 2006 01:51 AM

Okay, I'm an idiot. What else is new?;)

Seriously, 20 years of 3% increased pay for say 3k people in 2000 $ which will have to go through COngress along with funding for weapons systems vs. teh gov't being willing to accrue debt to pay the premium? We need a spread sheet and I'm incapable of doing something on this scale(I'm gollum and you're busy). So I'll have to remain skeptical while defering to wiser and more informed men than I.

Of course, my unstated assumption is that as soon as we're out of Iraq and 'Stan, with a Dem president, we'll see a budget major cus to the DoD. That proll'y colours my analysis a bit(that subjectivity Loadr was hinting at).

John of Argghhh! briefed on December 7, 2006 06:15 AM

2.5%, please. And if you are going to offset contractors with retirees, you are going to offset the costs for your contractors.

And remember, Ry - they're *already* paying me currently about 45% a month of what they'd be paying me if they brought me back on active duty, so the actual cost to the treasury is less than adding a body from scratch.

Oldloadr briefed on December 8, 2006 01:14 PM

So you have to wonder what is the fascination the government has with contractors? The only advantages I see to contractors from the government's perspective (and I don't think these outweigh the financial cost):
1. The MSM doesn't make as big a stink when contractors die.
2. The government can fire one in 24 hours.
3. The government can hire one and have him/her on the ground in 4 weeks.