Force Projection or Force Protection?

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 10 months ago

I have argued for increased force size on many occassions, and in my article Consequences of Inadequate Force Projection, I pointed out that lack of adequate force projection (along with lack of timeliness and speed with which the war has been conducted) has had debilitating consequences to the war effort.

There is currently debate over whether to increase, decrease or leave as is the force size in Iraq.  But what would these forces do if we did increase them?  In fact, what will the current forces do if we leave them there?  Taken literally, the Baker report implies that they will be protecting themselves.  Right in the executive summary are these words: “By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq.”

Consider the logical contortions of this statement for a moment.  Rewind:

“All combat brigades not necessary for force protection …”

The Department of Defense concept of “force protection” brings together all the security disciplines in a broader program to protect service members, civilian employees, family members, facilities and equipment.  Basically, “force protection” is a defensive posture.  If U.S. troops were going to be engaged in the sole duty of self-preservation on cloistered bases, why would they be deployed to Iraq at all?

Since Baker’s team obviously suffers under the delusion that Iran and Syria might just be willing to help us out with Iraq, the presence of U.S. forces would not be there as a detering presence.  So if not for Iran or Syria, then what?  Why would U.S. forces be present in the region at all after security had been achieved?  And if Baker would respond “to embed with Iraqi forces,” then the logical retort would be that this isn’t force protection as defined by the DoD.

The formal logical fallacy should not be overlooked here, because it is merely a symptom of the larger and more serious sickness of the study.  This is actually a point so important and fundamental that a middle-schooler should have been able to ascertain the problem prior to releasing the report.  The Baker commission has no mission for the troops after “security has been achieved,” but yet has them located in the region for a strategy that they do not define, engaged in “force protection.”  Were the Baker vision to reign, presumably we would have U.S. troops deployed to huge bases in Iraq, protecting each other, doing PTs in the morning, watching movies at night, and getting fat on the excessive food.

I have given a chance for Sun Tzu to speak to James Baker, but I have not yet weighed in.  Pitiful.  Just pitiful.  The congress should demand a refund.  The words of Macbeth come to mind: “A tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Force Projection,Iraq and was published December 16th, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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