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Monday, November 20, 2006

More good news from the sandbox

Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno

General Discusses Goals of His Return to Iraq

Published: November 20, 2006

FORT HOOD, Tex., Nov. 13 — Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who returns to Iraq next month to take charge of the day-to-day fight as commander of the Multinational Corps-Iraq, says he departs for Baghdad with a clearer, perhaps even diminished, set of expectations of what the military can be expected to accomplish now, more than three years after the invasion.

“You have to define win, and I think everybody has a different perspective on winning,” General Odierno said during an interview at the Army’s III Corps headquarters here.

“I would argue that with Saddam Hussein no longer in power in Iraq, that is a partial win,” he said. “I think what we need is an Iraqi government that is legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi population, an Iraq that is able to protect itself and not be a safe haven for terror. That’s what I think winning is.”

As a bugle sounded across Fort Hood with the call to lower the flag at dusk, General Odierno paused, and added, “Notice I left out a few things, such as a democracy in the sense that we see a democracy in the United States. We have to allow them to shape their own democracy, the type of democracy that fits them and their country.”

It has become a truism of the war in Iraq that there can be no military victory without a political solution, which requires the coordinated efforts of the entire United States government and of the Iraqi one, as well.

“The longer we stay in Iraq, the less of a military fight it becomes,” the general said. “We have to understand that.”

General Odierno has spent the past several months preparing for his new command, assigning his staff several histories of counterinsurgency efforts in Malaya, Algeria and Vietnam; meeting with academic experts on the Middle East and Islamist terrorism; and holding sessions with officers from the other armed services and from the Iraqi ground forces, with whom he will be working.

He outwardly carries the lessons — and the private, internal scars — from his first tour, at both the professional and personal levels.

General Odierno commanded the Fourth Infantry Division as insurgents carried out three-quarters of their attacks nationwide in his area of north-central Iraq, which included Saddam Hussein’s volatile home region of Tikrit.

It also was on his watch that a Special Operations task force and conventional troops under his command captured Mr. Hussein, producing a briefly shining moment in which the counterinsurgency effort appeared to be gaining traction.

But insurgency, terrorism and factional violence verging on civil war have continued.

He has felt criticism from some officers, especially among marines, that made it into the public debate via op-ed columns and books by noted military affairs writers, including “Cobra II,” by Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times and Bernard E. Trainer; and “Fiasco,” by Thomas E. Ricks of The Washington Post.

The Fourth Infantry Division focused too much on traditional combat operations in 2003 and 2004, the critics argued, saying that those efforts, with an emphasis on capturing and killing adversary fighters rather than on rebuilding the country and winning the confidence of Iraqis, actually fueled the insurgency

Ricks rips him a new asshole in Fiasco. Some of his battalion commanders were, well, insane.

By any rights, he should have been retired.

posted by Steve @ 1:17:00 AM

1:17:00 AM

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