Wednesday, March 22, 2006

intel blind in march 2006 reminds of April 1975

Americans went to Iraq as an assault force and found
themselves fighting in a defensive mode for their
lives, expending ordnance and firepower from the air,
sea and land intelligence (intel) blind at what was
assumed to be the enemy in order to survive. On
average five years older than American combat forces
in the Vietnam War, our soldiers are moms and dads
desperate to survive in order to return to the
children and spouses they left behind. In contrast,
the enemy-- the Iraq insurgents-- are on a one way
trip to Paradise, determined to take out as many
Americans as possible before they meet their doom.

US marines attacked Falluja in 2004, as pointedly
written by Bing West and shown in a FOX-TV
documentary, believing that "we are going after the
bad guys who say they would rather die than surrender,
so we are obliging them." But what means "firepower"
when you are intel-blind and when your troops are
desperate to survive while the enemy could care less
about survival?

In Vietnam we were also intel-blind, so we designated
wide territory "injun country" and mercilessly blasted
it with ordnance until the lush green land became
brown earth cratered to form thousands of rain puddles
by our bombs, never to again produce food for the
enemy, the Viet Cong (VC). Nevertheless, over the
years of a bloody war of attrition, some of "our
Viets" and many of our CIA operatives struggled to
gather intel until they finally developed a strategic
long range view of the enemy's mind. Only then were
they able to convert American war strategy from
Westmoreland's "search-and-destroy" strategy to what
Lewis Sorley so brilliantly wrote about as a "better
war." But until that day intel was a tactical tool to
find, fix and destroy the enemy, hitting him with
everything we had. To do that, nobody needed to
understand the language or the culture of the nation
Vietnam; Charlie was to be fixed and BOOM!

In the Iraq War we again went in intel-blind, cutting
our way through another strange land, ignorant of its
language and culture, in order to seize its capital,
Baghdad, as if playing a video-game. Rapidly moving
forward in armored vehicles American firepower only
saw, fixed and hit Saddam's Republican Guards but was
intel-blind to Saddam's Fedayeen irregulars, lightly
armed, attacking from pick-up trucks, as so well
demonstrated in Gordon and Trainor's new book: COBRA
II. When urged to stop the relentless march to Baghdad
in order to dispense with the Fedayeen irregulars,
Gen. Franks, reflecting the Rumsfeld mindset, sought
to fire Bill Wallace, the marine intel officer who
advised him, for his "lack of faith in the program."
For that "drinking of the Kool-ade," in Pentagon
parlance, by Rumsfeld and Franks, we are still paying

Similarly, Rumsfeld sought to cut out of the planning
and execution of *his* Iraq War (though when things
got tough, he ran for cover, declaring: "it's not my
plan, it's Gen. Frank's plan," at a press conference.
Frank's sudden turn in surprise was a harbinger of his
soon afterward decision to retire. The Franks-Wallace
controversy brings to mind an earlier battle over
intel between Westy and Gen. Johnson who was leading
the PROVIN advocates for Vietnam. Then too a marine,
the I Corps commander, challenged Westy's intel-blind
approach with the CAP Program that brought marines
into the rural matrix of the difficult Northern
Provinces, providing a wealth of intel that to this
day richly serves historians. Nevertheless, for MACV
the Vietnamese were no more than incidental squatters
on our battlefield against Hanoi, like the unfortunate
birds nesting on our Puerto Rican islands that were
used for ship-to-land target practice by the US Navy.

One can only wonder if Reservists, leaving behind
families and desperate to return to them, can be
expected to or would distinguish Jihadists from
civilians in a land where liberation from Saddam
turned into deep resentment towards our intel-blind
incompetent occupation. It was a mark of that
incompetence to watch on PBS Colonels in Baghdad
pleading with the press to get Congress to release
reconstruction funds in order to replace their out of
pocket payments to Iraqi collaborators; nor could the
sight of marines standing idle while criminals and
looters violently ravaged "liberated" Iraq be seen as
anything but a sign of American indifference to
anything but oil (wells were well protected). Paul
Bremer, being no Komer (the chief of the CORDS
operation that rebuilt South Vietnam faster than Westy
destroyed it) himself, soon gave the impression that
he is the viceroy of a renewed heartless foreign

It didn't take long for frightened Americans to find
themselves defensively firing into innocent civilians.
Few remember that before four American mercenaries
were murdered in Falluja, American forces had fired on
a peaceful demonstration, killing 11. When one side is
intel-blind but holds overwhelming firepower, such
"collateral damage" in inevitable.

Soon intel-blind American moms and dads, desperate to
get back to their own children, invariably found
themselves having a hard time discriminating between
the Iraqis who welcomed them and those preparing a
guerrilla offensive. According to Michael O'Hanlin, a
Brookings Institute scholar supporting the war, in the
first year of our invasion more than 20,000 civilians
died. Invariably this soured the welcome to the
liberators, especially in light of the lack of
reconstruction. Burdened with body armor, gadgets and
poorly armored vehicles, intel-blind Americans soon
became sitting ducks for men armed only with AK-47s,
RPGs and light mortars. Many did not even know how to
use these weapons. They were not well trained but they
more than made up for that with their willingness to
die, in counter to the American desperate desire to
live. Note the following description by Gaith
Abdul-Ahad, a Jordanian journalist who lived with the
[begin quote]
And what was the mood amongst the insurgents? What was
their motivation? What was it like to be with them?

... It's not like a death cult, but the only thing
they were talking ... about was death. They were
chatting about death and what happens when you die and
how many virgins you get.

In a way I realized later that they were talking about
death because they were trying to comfort themselves,
knowing that this was what's going to happen. Most of
them were in their early 20s, and most of them were --
it's like people who have never fought before. There
was a Yemeni taxi driver who was a religious man, and
he'd used an AK-[47] before, but he'd never fought.
They were just motivated young men who came from
different places in the Arab world, and all that they
wanted was to fight the Americans and die.

That's, again, the difference between them and ...
their Iraqi commander. The emir, the commander of that
cell, was an Iraqi. For him he had a specific thing:
He wanted to fight the Americans because he wanted to
fight an occupation. But for those young men, ... they
have this romantic dream of Osama bin Laden, of
mujahideen, of Afghanistan, and they wanted to fulfill
these dreams in Fallujah and Iraq. ...

[You've said that you feel the insurgents don't live
in the same world as we do.]

When all that you want to do is die, you come from
different places. There was a teacher who was very
well paid; there was a taxi driver. And they leave
everything. They come to a country, and all they want
to do is die ... and become martyrs. I mean, yes, they
want to help a cause, work for something, but the
mentality of those foot soldiers is beyond
[end quote]

The interviews of FRONTLINE with him and Michael Ware,
a brilliant TIME correspondent who also met with the
insurgents, serve to fully expose how very intel-blind
was our field command. In fact, I found it shocking
that Col. HR McMaster, the author of a brilliant book
on how the JCS Command failed to protect their troops
against harebrained intel-blind commanders in Vietnam,
DERELICTION OF DUTY, now finds himself an apologist
for similar command intel-blindness:

It has been argued that, whether they enlisted as
professionals because they like guns or as reservists
because they wanted assistance with college tuition,
soldiers are soldiers and must go where they are sent.
But they have a right to expect public support
translated into vigilance that they not be unduly put
in harm's way and killed. When Rumsfeld justified the
inadequacies a soldier complained about arguing that
you go to war with the army you've got, not always the
army you wish you had, he abrogated his responsibility
so well articulated in the Powell Doctrine: too much
is forgivable, too little is criminal. But the fact
that Bush was victim of a snow job, a blizzard of
"Rummy snowflakes," raises the question of whether
policy was based on intel-- good or bad-- or on
wishful thinking ideologically driven. If the latter
is true about Rumsfeld and the neocon suits who
advised him, then it was the duty of JCS to get word
to Congress so that their counter-opinions were on the
record at least. Yet, when an administration bore no
less than utter sycophancy, a mass resignation was in
order lest the very catastrophe McMaster wrote about
be repeated. COBRA II argues that indeed it was. And
former Pentagon intel chief Pat Lang's report that
Arabic speaking officers were rejected for his Iraq
ops by Defense Dept. under-Sec. Doug Feith because
that was indication enough that one would not
enthusiastically endorse Pentagon policies, is proof
of the reckless "anti-Semitism" towards Arabs that the
neocons brought to the Iraq War. It also indicts the
penchant for wishful thinking over intel, whatever it
may in fact be.

Soldiers sent to war driven by what ideology invested
civilian leaders wish were the case instead of by
solid intel of the best kind available cannot be
expected to distinguish those whom they are there to
destroy from those whom they are there to keep free.
Vietnam proved that quite dramatically. And no agency
better exposed the flaws of intel-blind ideologic
warfare than the CIA. Perhaps that is why Vice
President Cheney, Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld and their
neocon civilian staff focused all their ire on the
CIA, seeking to paralyze it in order to replace it
with a "yes, sir" military intel system that reports
back the picture ordered on command. Westy intel
chief,Gen. Phillip Davidson, left behind two books on
the Vietnam War and massive court testimony in the
Westy vs. CBS Trial that are an appalling testament to
the utter ignorance MACV suffered about its enemy. Yet
these seem even relegated to a false history now. When
I recently encountered a young general leading in the
current War on Terror, I invoked the Vietnam
experience. He responded by threatening that if I did
not want to end the exchange I should not associate
him with that "loser's war." Yet, looking at the Iraq
War now, three years on, and the intel available when
our Vietnam War became the "better war" Sorley
recounts, one can only feel outrage at how ignorance
made needless orphans and widows to a resistance that
fights with little more than ingenuity.

Not recognizing our fatal errors as an invading and
occupying force, we will never understand the key
force that exhausts our nation in counterinsurgency.
While we cover-up and hide our errors (though Abbu
Ghraib indicates we don't even do that well) and seek
to suppress resistance to our occupation with the same
killer tactics the Israeli forces use to compensate
for the smallness of their force relative to the
Palestinian opposition to occupation (the Iraqi Intel
Chief claimed, with American field support, that the
insurgency numbers over 200,000 guerrillas, full and
part time), we miss the great Mediterranean motive
force that drives these willing-to-die-to-kill-us
fighters. As so exquisitely analyzed in Laura
Blumenfeld's book REVENGE, it is actually the cult of
revenge. It is not the same revenge that has by now
come to drive many of our forces to kill Iraqis
sometimes in violation of our rules of war. For while
our troops may wish to avenge every dead American with
ten dead Iraqis, and often succeed, the Iraqis seek to
die taking as many Americans with them as possible.
This is a new factor that has been manifesting before
our eyes since the 1970 Iranian Revolution with
devastating results. Yet our intel on shahids is
paltry because of political censorship of intel
analysis. It is often forgotten that Israel's Shin Bet
once enjoyed as many as 30,000 Palestinian informants
providing invaluable intel. Like the Israeli
leadership, our leaders realize that, no matter how
great our firepower, it can never match the force of
an insurgency of men willing to die killing us. Even
those criminals who do it for cash are accepting that
fate, so great is the hate against the occupying
Crusaders. But, realizing that the Israeli application
of indiscriminate force to compensate for intel and
motivational imbalance will be unacceptable to the
American public, our leaders simply chose to pretend
that the problem is not what it is and to apply
vengeful violence as secretly as possible in a
desperate hope to demoralize the enemy. Thus,
Rumsfeld, Cheney and the neocons, as of 9/11,
concluded that in no way are the intel services to be
permitted to analyze the reality that, while we are
desperate to live, our foe is desperate to die killing
us. As a result, our intel is so blind by censorship
and so illusory that our forces are victimized by it
instead of served by it. Worst than during the Vietnam
War, now careerist at CIA, like officers at the
Pentagon, are playing along with the charade.

The question to be answered is whether the American
people are so disconnected from the current war on
terror and on Iraq, indeed on Islam, suffering from
the "ain't my kid going to Iraq" disconnect syndrome,
that they will tolerate the mass killings of enough
Iraqis by our firepower "professionals" to dis-spirit
the Jihadists while not permitting the American public
to realize what our war on terror is really up

The conspiratorial attempt to so blind our intel so
that it not create a record of how flawed our
ideological precepts were is truly, in my view, a
political deception, imposed on patriotic Americans
moved by the catastrophe of 9/11 to enlist in order to
defend their country "there" so that others need not
defend it "here." After these fighters are spent, what
will defend us, given that $200,000 enlistment bonuses
don't even seem adequate to keep up the quotas?

Daniel E. Teodoru

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