Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Petraeus' PhD thesis: Don't get bogged down in counterinsurgencies

Here's a PDF of General Patraeus' 1987 Princeton PhD dissertation. (HT: HNN via Sullivan) What's it called?
The American military and the lessons of Vietnam: A study of military influence and the use of force in the post-Vietnam era
Hmm, sounds like it may have some relevance to Patraeus' current job. Let's see what's inside...

Soldiers are often less hawkish than civilians when it comes to advocating the use of military force...yes how prescient. OK I'm not going to read all 343 pages of the PDF.

Here's the quote everyone's bandying about:
"The Vietnam experience left the military leadership feeling that they should advise against involvement in counterinsurgencies unless specific, perhaps unlikely, circumstances obtain -- i.e. domestic public support, the promise of a quick campaign, and freedom to employ whatever force is necessary to achieve rapid victory. In light of such criteria, committing U.S. units to counterinsurgencies appears to be a very problematic proposition, difficult to conclude before domestic support erodes and costly enough to threaten the well-being of all America's military forces (and hence the country's national security), not just those involved in the actual counterinsurgency."
Emphasis added. It's so weird how the words of the architects and implementers of this fiasco so accurately predict it. There's that Cheney quote from 1994 explaining why invading Iraq would be a bad idea ("It’s a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.") These people clearly have the mental capacity to see what a cock-up it is. But their willfulness or their blind loyalty or their I don't know what is far more powerful.

By the way, did anyone ask Patraeus why the 50:1 rule of thumb for counterinsurgency operations (20 soldiers per 1000 population) was so completely ignored for Iraq? (I talked about this back in December.) I'd like to know his response to this. I don't think we should be occupying Iraq at all. But we don't even have enough troops to do a half-decent occupation, unless there's some super-duper new way of doing counterinsurgency that acts as a "force multiplier".


Blogger Naj said...

This is a very nice find. I linked to your post, re Petreaus' PhD thesis.

4:15 PM, September 13, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Thanks for posting a comment and for linking to my blog. It is good to get the perspective of an Iranian woman. I hope our countries can have a more stable and constructive relationship, but unfortunately our government seems to be pushing for war. I hope we can prevent that from happening.

4:47 PM, September 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pentagon went into Vietnam to destroy Le Duan's plan to pulverize ARVN before the US comes in with PAVN regulars. CIA analysis in 1964 showed that the switch from Viet Cong to PAVN favored ARVN. Many Hanoi documents decry their inability to destroy ARVN as its in situ forces were always greater than Hanoi's long traveling forces, losing about 45% of soldiers disable by malaria and other diseases. ARVN *WAS* holding its own. But the strategy of the ARVN generals was to discourage Hanoi enough on the battlefield to get "neutralism" terms.

At first the US bombed the North in hope of arousing determination in the generals. It didn't work as they kept following the French as intermediary. Finally, LBJ sent in forces to destroy PAVN. But the more US troops sprawled, the more VC could cut into them. Eventually the US decided to hit ALL Viet peasants a la Israeli hit on Palestinians to exterminate resistance rather than to save Republic of Vietnam sovereignty. As a result, the people became the enemy as we gave them no choice, massacring them once their villages were deemed "injun country."

The result was that the peasant "sea" left the guerrilla "fish" high and dry taking refuge in the cities where the VCI was useless. Because of Khomer's ceaseless efforts, they were integrated in towns as, per Radio Hanoi, "petites bourgeois"-- in an urban economy. Westy focused of the tri-border area to smoke out PAVN and destroy it with ordnance. Per Nguyen Chi Thanh, he managed to reach the "cross-over point" where we were destroying PAVN men and supplies faster than they could replace them. Thanh decided that he must punish the cities, hence the Tet Offensive.

Petraeus never understand how much Americans can make themselves hated and used shamelessly by crooked and unreliable elements. His thesis showed he misread Vietnam and on that basis adopted the surge tactic in Iraq which, per Tom Ricks is unraveling because it was nothing but a decentralized exploitation of Sunni local interests done at expense of nation building.

His misreading of Vietnam is paralleled by his misreading of Iraq.

DE Teodoru

2:19 AM, January 01, 2010  
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