IRAQ'S NEW WAR PLAN

The situation in Iraq seems to settled considerably in recent months, with the January elections there being credited for the calm. But a new U.S. military battle plan probably had something to do with it, too. Especially since "prior to a February revision... the secret blueprint lacked detailed mileposts for achieving security in the war-torn nation," according to Inside Defense.

casey_cammo.jpgThe top U.S. officer in Iraq, Army Gen. George Casey, issued his first campaign plan in August 2004, just one month after becoming commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, or MNF-I, according to Air Force Col. Robert Potter, the generals spokesman in Baghdad.Officials privy to the document say it contained an array of lofty objectives, like bringing stability to the nation and transitioning security responsibilities to newly trained Iraqi forces. But it offered unit commanders virtually no guidance on how to implement the goals and laid out no time lines, officials say.You had a classified campaign plan, said one retired officer who has worked in Iraq. It was dense. It was strategically broad. It almost didnt mean a thing...Caseys earlier plan depicted multinational security operations in Iraq along a military concept for lines of operation, in which activities are segmented into discrete baskets like civil affairs, counterinsurgency operations, logistics, economic reconstruction and the like, according to defense officials.None of these things are connected, one source recalls an officer at Caseys headquarters acknowledging. They didnt understand the enemy and didnt frame it the right way in Caseys first plan, said this former officer. It was many things but it was not a counterinsurgency plan.The new edition adds milestones and what we call cradle-to-grave processes, Janke said. It offers the big picture view and tells unit commanders, Now were going to give you direction, he said...Many in Caseys headquarters were resistant to embracing the new tack, defense officials tell ITP... Caseys deputy chief of staff for strategy, plans and assessment -- was advocating a major change that would make Iraq operations more unified around the counterinsurgency effort. The Army-dominated bureaucracy at Caseys headquarters was pushing back, this official said.It was a big shift for people to say, OK, now were in an insurgency, said an Army officer interviewed last month.Heading into the first weeks of February, there still was not a consensus inside MNF-I headquarters about the idea of what priorities MNF-I should pursue, a former military officer said...Its dawning on [senior leaders] what theyre dealing with now is a full-blown counterinsurgency campaign to which all other objectives in Iraq must be linked, the official said.The military blueprint that Caseys August plan replaced -- a January 2004 document issued by Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the top general in Iraq -- offered even less insight on how the U.S.-led counterinsurgency effort was to succeed, defense officials say...By spring of last year, the Sanchez campaign plan was thrown out and officers in Iraq were being told there was none, recalls one officer who recently returned from the region.Over the ensuing 12 months, as casualties have mounted, the focus in Iraq has largely shifted from broad security and reconstruction tasks to fighting a war against the insurgency, according to officials in the region. Caseys challenge now is to apply the resources -- both funds and troops -- in the right places to fulfill U.S. military objectives, defense sources say.
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