Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 16, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

AMERICAN SOLDIER....Phil Carter, former operational planner in the 4th Infantry Division, isn't very impressed with Tommy Franks. In his new book, American Soldier, Franks describes a prewar review meeting with the top brass in the Bush administration in which it's clear that there was little interest in hearing about plans for "Phase IV" post hostility operations:

You have to have sat through a few OPLAN briefings to understand why this is significant. Here, Gen. Franks briefed the President and the NSC principals that Phase IV entailed significant strategic and operational risk, and that there was no good solution yet for Phase IV. Yet, the discussion afterwards focused entirely on WMD, Scuds, issues with allies, and other issues focused on Phase III.

No one asked Gen. Franks about Phase IV; it seemed like an afterthought. That makes sense because the White House and Pentagon leaders saw Operation Iraqi Freedom as Desert Storm II in many ways where we dodged the post-war issue by limiting our objectives and pulling out rapidly. This passage implies that Gen. Franks was aware of the problem, but his bosses weren't and he didn't pop a starcluster to let them know of the problem.

Reading between the lines, Phil says it's pretty clear that there's plenty of blame to go around. There's not much question that the Bush administration displayed almost criminal negligence in simply assuming that everything would go smoothly once the fighting was over, but "a certain amount of blame also belongs to Gen. Franks, for not highlighting the strategic and operational risks of this plan and pushing for their resolution before execution."

There's more where that came from. Read the whole thing.

Kevin Drum 1:11 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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