From the Daily Reckoning: As far as what’s happening over here… first, in Fallujah, the Marines were doing well until they ran out of gas, literally. The real reason the Marines had to start their truce/cease-fire strategy is because the coalition forces are running extremely low on fuel right now. We first heard about it maybe 10 days ago or so from some Army 5th Group Special Forces guys who were complaining to us, saying how even THEY had been ordered to ration fuel.
Considering that Special Forces guys get the best of everything and get first dibs on everything, including fuel, we knew the shortage must be pretty bad. Sure enough, just a couple days later, the Army 1 star, who runs the base where our compound is located, implemented strict refueling policies, severely limiting how much gas we can take per day. They’ve gone so far as posting guards at the fuel points to measure how much gas is pumped per vehicle, per day, with everything getting logged on their clipboards. It’s definitely a change. The 1 star didn’t tell us where the fuel shortage came from, but it is probably a mix of poor planning and recent fuel truck convoys from Kuwait being either delayed or cancelled due to the increasing number of attacks. Anyway, that’s the reason the marines had to slow down in Fallujah. Once the fuel problem gets taken care of, the Marines will probably pick up the pace again. Fallujah is going to take a couple months, not a couple weeks….
We knew things would get worse before June 30th, and they have. Things will probably continue to get worse. It’s already been established that both the new Iraqi military and Iraqi police are pretty much worthless and cannot be trusted. So much so, that the Army requested Kurdish soldiers to come to Baghdad to replace the Iraqi soldiers currently providing security for the army bases here. The Army knows the Kurdish soldiers can be trusted and are loyal to the U.S., unlike the Iraqi soldiers. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when a few thousand Kurds show up in Baghdad armed with AK47s. But that’ll only be one of many future problems.
The Army recently extended the tour lengths another 4 months for a lot of their guys who have already been in the Middle East a year now. Their morale and motivation was already non-existent before the extension; now these guys, tens of thousands of them, are just taking up space over here.
I know it’s still early in the game, but you can pretty much write off the entire U.S. Army (with the exception of their special forces and maybe their aviation units) as being “operationally ineffective” in the future (i.e. completely worthless to the coalition from here on out, except to suck up food and fuel). Generally speaking, the Army is incompetent in these types of environments: only Marines and Special Forces guys do well in a place like this. Special Forces because they’re so precise, and Marines because they’re so disciplined… and ferocious.
The Army is just making things worse for the coalition. The Army is intent on having its presence seen and felt in Iraq because they think that will make everyone think they are in charge. What they don’t seem to realize is that a large military presence is the one thing, pretty much the only thing, the Iraqis can’t tolerate. Despite reports by the news media to the contrary, Iraqis don’t resent the humanitarian projects, or the rebuilding effort, or even the U.S. being in control of the government until the transition. Sure the Iraqis want to be in charge, but the majority can tolerate the situation until a transition happens, even if it’s months down the road. But what they can NOT tolerate is waking up every day and seeing army tanks and Bradleys rolling through their towns and villages. And they can’t tolerate being stopped by endless Army checkpoints on the highways, which were set up by commanding officers who think terrorists and insurgents haven’t figured out a way yet to avoid those checkpoints. That’s what the Iraqis resent and can’t tolerate, along with a thousand other ways the Army makes its presence felt (and I didn’t even mention having your door kicked in at 2 am because of some “hot Army intel”). Until the Army realizes all of this – which it seems like it never will – things will only get worse. And in response, the Army will just increase its presence.”
Do try to keep this in mind when the armchair heroes who’ve never been within three thousand miles of Iraq blather that all we need is to keep our fighting spirits up. An army still fights on its belly, and even the best soldiers are only as capable as their supply line. More important, perhaps, is to remember that armies are designed for killing people, breaking things and winning wars, not nation-building. Failure does not only stem from lack of ability or will, but also from conceit. To me, the very concept of nation-building sounds almost as wildly hubristic as the fatal conceit, socialism itself.