Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Strategic Mistakes

Within the comments of the Armchair Generalist post that I listed below Bobby Bran and I disagreed about whether you could call Iraq a strategic mistake. While Bobby admits to many of the tactical and/or operational errors made by the Pentagon's civilian leadership, he stated that only history will tell whether the war was a strategic success or not.

I couldn't disagree more with those who say that the jury is still out on whether there were strategic errors made in this war, and this morning the Pentagon told Congress what they should already know- the invasion and occupation of Iraq is hampering our abilities to deal with other potential conflicts and adversaries.
WASHINGTON, May 2 - The concentration of American troops and weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan limits the Pentagon's ability to deal with other potential armed conflicts, the military's highest ranking officer reported to Congress on Monday.

The officer, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Congress in a classified report that major combat operations elsewhere in the world, should they be necessary, would probably be more protracted and produce higher American and foreign civilian casualties because of the commitment of Pentagon resources in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A half dozen Pentagon civilian and military officials were discussing the outlines of the report on Monday as it was being officially delivered to Congress; one government official provided a copy to The New York Times. The officials who discussed the assessment demanded anonymity because it is a classified document.

General Myers cited reduced stockpiles of precision weapons, which were depleted during the invasion of Iraq, and the stress on reserve units, which fulfill the bulk of combat support duties in Iraq, as among the factors that would limit the Pentagon's ability to prevail as quickly as war planners once predicted in other potential conflicts.

The report this year acknowledges that the nation's armed forces are operating under a higher level of risk than cited in the report last year, said Pentagon and military officials who have read both documents.
In case I wasn't clear as to what the strategic error the Bush Administration made is, let me spell it out. Despite possessing possibly the greatest military of all time, we still have limited defense capabilities. Because we have limited resources we must conserve those resources for times when we truly need to use them, IMO when we are directly threatened or when we are working to avert some large scale humanitarian crisis (though I'm not sure whether our armed forces should be dealing with these and not some international org. that we are a member of). Using our limited defense resources when no threat is present is thus a strategic error. Whether it is a major error or not to invade and occupy Iraq won't be know for some time, since it will be determined in large part by the actions of our adversaries. But I'm sure that our adversaries have taken note of our over extension (and the massive budget deficits we are incurring, IMO another major strategic error) and at the very least our credibility is seriously hampered.

And so it seems that right now our security is based largely on luck and the actions of our potential or actual enemies. Our faith-based foreign policy is in full swing, and I highly advise every god fearing American to pray like hell that we make it through this time of trial. Not that G-d actually gives two shits about American security, but at least it might take our minds off of the fact that we are becoming more and more insecure with each passing day.