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Civil war within the pentagon; tampering with the ‘tipfid’

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As we will be talking about ‘phases’ of conflict and how actions in one phase affect events in subsequent phases, it is useful to know that the US military model divides the prosecution of war into four phases: Phase I, Deterrence and engagement; Phase II, Seize the initiative; Phase III, Decisive operations; and Phase IV, Post-conflict.

While Phase III, Decisive operations, is the portion of war that ‘meets the news’ it is Phase IV, Post-conflict, in which victory is sustained and a future war is deferred or eliminated. To that end, Phase IV planning should commence well before Phase III, but it is hard given the desire of the warfighter to be on point. In Iraq, we will see that despite military predictions of need on ‘day after’ that Phase IV was treated as an afterthought ('That's Jerry Bremer's job') with the appalling consequences unfolding before us.

As other writers have addressed the trajectory and defense implications of Rumsfeld’s career, including military force streamlining, I will address only the impact of his altering the bible of US military planning, the Time-Phased Force and Deployment Data (TPFDD) or ‘tipfid’ to its users, in the run-up to OIF.

The tipfid is "a way of doing business that is methodical, careful, and sure; [a] complex master plan governing which forces would go where, when, and with what equipment, on which planes or ships, so that everything would be coordinated and ready at the time of attack." The thoroughness of tipfid planning accounts for its lengthy planning cycle time and from what I can discern, the TPFDD still has a ‘heavy armor’ Powell Doctrine flavor to it, but it is still an open issue if it as ponderous and risk averse as its detractors say.

I support the idea that an apparent success in the prosecution of the Afghan campaign (I’m on record as saying that Afghan democracy is a veneer and that Karzai dies when the US withdraws his personal security detail) influenced the idea that a similar approach could be used on the larger, more fractious Iraq.

Army war-gaming resulted in a force recommendation of 400,000 strong "of as many Americans as necessary and as many allied troops as possible," whereas Rumsfeld had a figure of 75,000 in mind. With Bosnia and Kosovo fresh to mind, General Eric Shinseki supported the Army's position that "with too few soldiers, the United States would win the war only to be trapped in an untenable position during the occupation." This support of a larger force made Shinseki "uncooperative" in Rumsfeld’s view.

The military reminds Rumsfeld that changes/reductions to the TPFDD "will ripple back to every railhead and every company." Still, the total manning at onset of combat was 200,000; principally US, secondarily UK forces. All else was what I like to call Snow White and the seven dwarfs. As expected ally participation did not materialize.

I find it prescient that the Army saw clearly that:

  • Phase IV, Post-conflict, fell most heavily upon it as other services withdrew.
  • Its "ops tempo," or pace of operations would suffer in a long-term commitment to Iraq as Reserve and National Guard elements "had no expectations of long-term foreign service when they signed up" only to find themselves deployed to Iraq for long tours.
  • The manning that Rumsfeld presumed "wastefully large" were as much for Phase IV as Phase III, i.e., The first few days or weeks after the fighting were crucial in setting long-term civilian expectations. i.e., "Insights from successful occupations suggest that it is best to go in real heavy and then draw down fast," so that "Civilians would see that they could expect a rapid return to order, and would behave accordingly."

With Bosnia and Kosovo fresh to mind, General Eric Shinseki supported the Army's position that "with too few soldiers, the United States would win the war only to be trapped in an untenable position during the occupation." The Army saw OSD as reckless while OSD saw the Army as risk-averse. This support of a larger force made Shinseki "uncooperative" in Rumsfeld’s view. OSD went so far as to bar General John Abizaid from a military-civilian conference addressing which would be the more difficult issue, winning the war or winning the peace:

The [OSD] planning assumptions were that the people would realize they were liberated, they would be happy that we were there, so it would take a much smaller force to secure the peace than it did to win the war. The resistance would principally be the remnants of the Baath Party, but they would go away fairly rapidly. And, critically, if we didn't damage the infrastructure in our military operation, as we didn't, the restart of the country could be done fairly rapidly.

Part 2 of Civil war

Gordon Housworth



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