Sunday, August 19, 2007
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The operators' view of Iraq
I think it would be safe to say that Army specialist Buddhika Jayamaha, sergeants Wesley D. Smith, Jeremy Roebuck, Omar Mora, and Edward Sandmeier, and staff sergeants Yance T. Gray and Jeremy A. Murphy have a view of Iraq that differs from O'Hanlon and Pollack:
In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.Read the whole thing.
This op-ed will raise a hornets nest of questions. Once the September report on the surge is issued, there will be a "compare and contrast" exercise between this downbeat assessment of the "operators" of our Iraq policy, as opposed to the "managers" of David Petraeus, Ryan Crocker, and the White House. As John Cole puts it: "While these guys are in the 82nd Airborne, you can see that what they write is sure to infuriate the patriots in the 101st Chairborne."posted by Dan on 08.19.07 at 09:06 AM
What I find so significant about this Op-Ed is the ranks, or pay grades, if you will, of the authors. These aren’t policy wonks with PhDs. Or even masters degrees. The authors are at the heart of the Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) corps. Four are E-5 sergeants and two are E-6 sergeants. These are significantly high enough enlisted men that they lead troops. Staff Sergeants and sergeants would have a title of Squad Leader and, depending on the type of unit be responsible for from eight to sixteen subordinate soldiers.
These soldiers are not commissioned officers wanting to make sure everything has the right spin so as to not put future promotions in jeopardy. These soldiers have the freedom to “tell it like it is.”
The other key consideration in examining the pay grades involved is that these are not men trained in strategy or regularly having a broad perspective of the battlespace. Rather, their roles and expertise are tactics in the small portion of Iraq in which they operate at any given time.
Saying this does not diminish in any way their insights into the local situation in their Area(s) of Responsibility. The op-ed is simply a well-crafted data point for the time(s) and space(s) in which those insights were gained, and should be added with the observations of others operating elsewhere to develop a more strategic picture.posted by: Jem on 08.19.07 at 09:06 AM [permalink]
I'll also note that the tone of the op-ed is very different than I've normally encountered when interacting with personnel at that level of the military. One wonders if there was "assistance" provided by others, not credited, who agreed with the sentiments but lacked the credibility accrued from being in combat themselves...posted by: Jem on 08.19.07 at 09:06 AM [permalink]
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