Patterico's Pontifications

4/6/2007

Tommy Franks Speaks in West Texas

Filed under: General,War — Patterico @ 2:48 pm



Typing with one finger and a broken collarbone, DRJ sends along this story of Tommy Franks giving a speech in Midland, Texas:

Deploying a larger invasion force during the first stage of the Iraq War could have been a mistake that cost thousands of American lives, retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks, told an audience at the Petroleum Club on Thursday.
During a question and answer session at the end of a benefit for Texas Special Olympics, Franks, who was the commanding general of the U.S. Central Command from 2000 to 2003, indicated in his response to an audience member that it would have taken up to six months to deploy a substantially larger force to Iraq than what was sent March 20, 2003. During this time Saddam Hussein’s regime would have had more time to prepare for the invasion and could potentially have mounted a much fiercer and deadlier resistance to U.S. forces and their allies.

“I believe as many as 50,000 Americans would have lost their lives as a result of a better dug-in enemy,” Franks said.

Additionally, he said Hussein may have used the six-month period to initiate the mass-murder of Iraqi Shiites and to destroy critical oil field and water infrastructure.
Franks also said now that there are troops on the ground it likely would be beneficial to increase the amount of troops on the ground. He said commanders in Iraq believe an addition of 21,000 additional troops will help make a difference and he trusts their judgment.

Is he right? I don’t know. But maybe his words will pierce the smug self-righteousness of the Monday-morning quarterbacks who know just where Bush mismanaged the beginning of the war — and who assure us that they never would made the same mistake. They would have double-bagged it.

Yeah, you can just see the arrogance dissolving from their expressions.

47 Responses to “Tommy Franks Speaks in West Texas”

  1. So eager was Tommy Franks to retire after the successful invasion phase of the Iraq War, that he ignored the emergence of the insurgency. Between the fall of Baghdad and his retirement in July, Operation Iraqi Freedom was declared “Mission Accomplished” while Franks planned his retirement party and turned a blind eye to the nascent stages of a resistance that would claim the lives of thousands of American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

    The guilt Franks must feel about this weighs heavy on his heart. Being as stubborn as he is, however, he cannot and will not acknowledge the role his played in the disaster that our occupation of Iraq has become. I hope that making CYA speeches to friendly audiences in Texas helps him sleep better at night.

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  2. I agree with LA. We should have done what the Ottomans would have. Killed every Iraqi male and resettled the country with all our illegal immigrants, ghetto welfare recipients and general ne’e’r do wells, giving them the Iraqi women and girls as an incentive. Is that about what you meant to say, LA?

    nk (37b8ef)

  3. I’m not sure where Gen. Franks or his battlestaff came up with the idea that up to 50,000 Americans would have been killed if they had taken the time to build up and train a larger force. Didn’t we kick the shit out of Saddam’s much larger and more well-equipped army in 1991, a build-up that had the benefit of four months of logistical planning?

    I think Franks is trying to cover his ass here. Yes, there is a possibility that Hussein could have used that time to initiate mass-murder and destroy the country’s infrastructure in a scorched-earth strategy. But all such measures would have accomplished is increased sympathy for the American position that Hussein had to go, and honestly would have provided an immediate moral pretext for our allies to rally around. The notion that Hussein might have done these things smacks of a battleplan crafted out of desperation, not strength, and against a significantly weaker enemy, no less.

    Chris (a78e47)

  4. Yes, nk. That’s me. Always advocating for more violence.

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  5. Chris,

    Desert Storm was primarily fought in Kuwait. I could be wrong but I thought actions in Iraq were limited to air strikes and western/southern incursions that were terminated before American forces faced the Revolutionary Guard troops and their fortified areas in central and northern Iraq.

    DRJ (d57665)

  6. DRJ-

    Get your ass back to BED woman! Heal up, and THEN innundate us with these gems…

    Geeze… Are you sure you aren’t a doctor? Yer a horrid patient! :)

    Nothin’ but love and well wishes DRJ. In all seriousness, a great find.

    Now if only TLA would get a clue…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  7. What is forgotten is that Turkey had refused to let the 4ID operate out of Turkey. Saddam disbelieved the INTEL that he had bought and paid for from a Russian diplomat. Saddam chose to ignore that info, and believed that France, China and Russia would bottle up the US for months. He did expect an attempt at an insurgency and positioned his troops and equipment for such, not an outright assault. The priceless part of this is the reasoning for *not* believing the INTEL… Saddam reasoned that the man was unreliable because he could be bribed. He knew this because he had *bribed him*. Have to love that kind of logic…

    By the time 4ID would be shifted down, disembarked, checked its equipment and mobilized, Saddam would then move back to entrenched positions. While there was no strategic surprise, as the US forces were *known* there was a huge tactical surprise because Saddam assumed that his friends in other governments would forestall an attack.

    So, as a Theater Commander, when you see that you have a couple of months before an entire Division can be shifted from front to front, have forces that have a limited time duration before rotation, and an enemy who has just repositioned his forces to counter an insurgency and *not* your current forces, what do you recommend?

    Do you want to use relatively light and rapid forces against an out of position enemy that is unprepared for that kind of assault or *wait* for more manpower to go against an enemy dug in and prepared for your assault?

    I will not second-guess Tommy Franks on that, as it is a helluva decision to make. Either is a gamble… but one just might get things done with *quickly*. That is why he raised to his level of command and responsibility: he was delegated that authority to decide and it is on *him* that it falls.

    ajacksonian (87eccd)

  8. Desert Storm was primarily fought in Kuwait. I could be wrong but I thought actions in Iraq were limited to air strikes and western/southern incursions that were terminated before American forces faced the Revolutionary Guard troops and their fortified areas in central and northern Iraq.

    Correct…and those air strikes completely decimated the Iraqis’ ability to mount any sort of counter-offensive; our air power was so dominant that our pilots spent many missions picking off Iraqi tanks one at a time. The Iraqis simply didn’t have the material, manpower, or will to push back and inflict real damage on our troops–the army surrendered 48 hours after the land invasion began. And the survivors were Hussein’s elite combat troops; I think if Saddam thought he had a chance at defeating us the war would have lasted a lot longer than 43 days.

    The Iraqi army that we faced four years ago was a shell of the battle-hardened group we faced in 1991, yet it was estimated that they would have inflicted about 38 times the number of casualties, given six months to prepare. I’m sorry, but based on our position of military strength at the start of this conflict and our success against a much better supplied and battle-tested foe in 1991, I can’t buy Franks’ justification.

    Chris (a78e47)

  9. I need to add that it is easy to Monday-morning quarterback this, given what we know now. What I disagree with is Franks’ reasoning behind the decision.

    Chris (a78e47)

  10. Frank’s 50,000 figure does not seem plausible, but more American deaths might have resulted from a delay. The mass murder of Shia and destruction of the oil fields are plausible.

    Remember many of Bush’s war critics claimed that the Battle for Baghdad would be a modern day Stalingrad (where the Germans lost 850,000 men) and that the brutal Afghanistan and the Afghan winter would swallow the American Army like it had every Army since Alexander the Great.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  11. I remember the anti-war left prophesying that in original attempt to oust Saddam’s regime there would be between 10,000 to 20,000 American deaths because of urban fighting. Also that there would be an ecological disaster when Saddam lit off his oil wells, there would be three to five million civilian refugees and the very real possibility that it would touch off World War III because the Arab Street would be inflamed by such American “imperial” encroachments.

    Estimates for eventually defeating Saddam’s regime ranged from six months to a year … it actually took 21 days with less than 200 American casualties.

    What nobody of note got right was how quickly Saddam’s regime was deposed AND that foreign fighters would flock to the killing fields in Iraq. Clearly the major combat portion to oust Saddam’s regime was a spectacular success. What the Bush Administration has failed to do once the “insurgency” began heating up was to patiently and clearly explain that Iraq was now another front on global terrorism, killing the Muslim jihadists over there instead of here at home AND look what country now sits between Coalition/American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq … Iran!

    Now with actionable intelligence, it makes a lot of sense to put 20 to 30,000 more troops into the Iraqi theater to quell the violence. Before that, having more boots on the ground shortly after the fall of Hussein’s regime would have simply put more Americans at risk “standing around”. War’s a bitch and a lot of hard work, sweat and blood. Though the left likes to put words in people’s mouths, nobody in the Bush Administration ever said this would be a cakewalk. In fact President Bush has said more than once this is essentially a generation war as long as Islamofascists pose a threat to the free world. Unfortunately it looks like Europe is succumbing to the insanity of blind multi-culturalism and pandering/appeasing hostile Muslims. It will soon be a far less free Eurabia.

    Hankmeister (4b484f)

  12. There are between two and three million displaced Iraqi people – refugees – as a result of the war. Their presence in Damascus and Amman is palpable. Where did all these people with absolutely nothing come from?

    The flip side of the refugee story is the empty neighborhoods – and in some case, entire small cities – that the war has produced.

    There’s no amount of finger-crossing and fairy-believing you can do to cause this misadventure to be anything less of an unmitigated disaster to the Iraqi people than it is.

    It would behoove you to to take humanitarian concerns like the refugee crisis into consideration along with your unflagging support for the war.

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  13. I guess you missed the day they reported the people have started coming back, huh?

    God damn you’re dense… You really can’t stand to think good has and will come of us being in Iraq, can you?

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  14. “. But maybe his words will pierce the smug self-righteousness of the Monday-morning quarterbacks ”

    It sounds like monday morning quarterbacking to me. More Mushroom cloud hogwash.

    marc (4fe3dc)

  15. There’s no amount of finger-crossing and fairy-believing you can do to cause this misadventure to be anything less of an unmitigated disaster to the Iraqi people than it is.

    Perhaps you ought to get over there and explain that to the ignorant brown people, LA, because even though they’re living it, they don’t seem to get* the truthiness of the matter as you do. Perhaps that’s because they know what life was like under Saddam.

    *Q 10, Pg 6:
    Q10. Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US- Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?

    …………9/06 1/06
    Worth it….61% 77
    Kurd……..81 91
    Shia …….75 98
    Sunni ……11 13

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  16. One problem I’ve had with most of the criticisms of the war’s management is I have heard no coherent explanation of how some other decisions would have foreseeably (or even in hindsight) led to better results. The war critics all took for granted an “easy” initial phase, and then explained how their choices would have made things better after that phase. For example, soon after the major combat period, I heard criticism because we hadn’t fixed their electric system right away. I asked that, given an electric generator is about the size and weight of a tank, how many tanks should have been displaced?

    I don’t know about 50,000 dead, but I have long believed that our going in light and fast and without 4ID — in effect, making a surprise attack out of the most widely telegraphed invasion in history — was the key to having the world’s most successful major invasion in history. Few credible people were making public estimates of US deaths in the war; I did see an expected 2,000 or 3,000 dead, from a military source, just for a conventional taking of Baghdad.

    In short, the war has taken more time, and probably more of our money, than would reasonably have been expected, but certainly not more US lives.

    DWPittelli (87ad39)

  17. I think it’s interesting to hear what Gen. Franks has to say. He could have easily said that he retired because “he wasn’t being listened to” and could get much more press exposure and rich off a book and speaking engagements.

    That said, I have no way to judge his comments, but I will make a few observations, FWIW.

    1. As has been said, we mopped up a much larger and tougher force in 1991 because they were concentrated as a conventionmal military force where we could carpet bomb the h*** out of them with B-52’s even before the A-10’s and others picked off tanks like it was practice in the hills of Pennsylvania. We could do nothing like that this time, unless we wanted to replay Tokyo and Dresden out of WW-II. We didn’t want to do that because we knew the iraqi populace as a whole was sick of saddam as well.

    2. “There’s no …you can do to cause this misadventure to be anything less of an unmitigated disaster to the Iraqi people than it is.
    It would behoove you to to take humanitarian concerns like the refugee crisis into consideration along with your unflagging support for the war.”
    *****We do take humanitarian considerations into account. We considered the 100,000’s of Iraqis that Hussein had killed and continued to kill, the people that were dieing of malnutrition and poor medical care because funds were diverted to military purposes with UN assistance, etc.

    3. Along with the claim that the battle for Baghdad would be like Stalingrad (yes, nonsensical), there was also the claim that we were invading Iraq to take the oil ourselves, remember? A claim that was put forth by opponents to the war. Going in with a larger force would have given more support to such a claim, rather than going in with a limited force under the claim we were going to assist the Iraqi people get rid of Saddam.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  18. We do take humanitarian considerations into account. We considered the 100,000’s of Iraqis that Hussein had killed and continued to kill, the people that were dieing of malnutrition and poor medical care because funds were diverted to military purposes with UN assistance, etc.

    It’s interesting that neither of these was cited as our casus belli. Don’t forget the mobile bioweapons labs and the smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud!

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  19. Mr. Avenger-

    You did not ask for a review of the given reasons for going into Iraq, You had suggested that those who supported invading Iraq were of such low moral character that humanitarian isues were of no consequence. I was simply stating that those supporting the invasion of Iraq were not ignorant or unaware of humanitarian consequences. Contrary to Howard Dean’s opinion, conservatives don’t spend time trying to find ways to make children go to bed hungry.

    And I don’t forget the mobile bioweapons lab. There was little reason for an Iraqi biologist to have Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever* virus buried in his backyard other than doing things with it that were not to be found out.

    *Similar to Ebola Virus, but not as contagious and not as deadly. Not many would work on Ebola without a P-3 lab, at least for long.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  20. In his first comment LA took issue with us not sending in enough troops to kill enough Iraqis. If we had he would have taken issue with us sending in too many troops to kill too many Iraqis. Arguing with a Liberal is noncupatory.

    nk (306f5a)

  21. nk-

    Thank you for the collaborative effort. I really wasn’t planning to argue with him, just point out where he was off-point, as well as hoping he will need some time to figure out a good reason for CCHF virus to be buried in the backyard. [I will not except “the dog buried it there” as an adequate answer.]

    [Also, you give me the opportunity to put you in the que for Secretary of Defense based on your post at #2, which I previously neglected to do.]

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  22. In his first comment LA took issue with us not sending in enough troops to kill enough Iraqis.

    Untrue. I am criticizing Franks for taking his eyes of the ball. I hope his retirement party was as exciting and self-congratulatory as he envisioned.

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  23. I accept that you believe that but all soldiers do is kill people after all. Being underaggressive is much more forgivable than being overaggressive in war.

    nk (306f5a)

  24. I don’t disagree with you on that, nk.

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  25. #21

    By that logic, I should top the list, due to my eligant battle plan for Iran…

    I call it “Operation: Lake Iran”. The rebuiling effort involves the biggest Jewish-themed waterpark ever conceived.

    Why jewish-themed? Well, mainly to piss of the Iranians, to be honest…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  26. But I would not want to be called Secretary of Defense. I would want the title of “Pasha Agha Maimou Bey”.

    nk (306f5a)

  27. When I am king, NK, you shall have that title!

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  28. Liberal Avenger said:

    I am criticizing Franks for taking his eyes of the ball.

    Okay, but do you have any evidence to support this claim?

    Michael Smith (b8378c)

  29. I think it’s interesting to revisit articles like this from 2003:

    There’s a debate over whether operational (or strategic) surprise was attained–that is, something approaching total surprise of the Pearl Harbor variety. Franks thinks it was. Even though Saddam Hussein was aware of the gradual military buildup just outside Iraq, he was led to believe an attack was weeks away at the earliest and might still be averted altogether. The strongest evidence of operational surprise is that the Iraqi army neither went on the attack nor mounted a serious defense of any region, installation, or city, Baghdad included.

    DRJ (50237c)

  30. […] most recent contribution over at Patterico was interesting on its own merits, but it was this line that really caught my eye: “Typing […]

    Amused Cynic » Blog Archive » Heal fast, DRJ! (691ade)

  31. nk and scott jacobs,

    When competing for such important posts, one needs to keep up with the latest qualifying skill set.

    Do either one of you handle poisonous snakes with impunity, know how to charm a cobra with a flute (actually body motion), or are quick enough to snatch a dead snake from a mongoose?

    If puzzled, you haven’t been paying attention to this thread:
    http://patterico.com/2007/04/06/6133/monica-goodling-i-cant-defend/

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  32. DWPitelli #16

    You just make too much sense. The Libs will never
    buy it. That’s not their forte.

    LMP (fc7c50)

  33. It’s interesting that neither of these was cited as our casus belli.

    Bullshit. How long have you been pontificating about this war, and you’ve still not read the document that lays out the casus belli and authorizes the use of force? Do you have any idea how utterly foolish that is?
    Joint Resolution Authorizing the Use of Force in Iraq

    Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

    Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

    If you can’t be bothered to trouble yourself with the source material, LA, you really ought to just shut up.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  34. Gods Pablo… Did you ever know that you’re my hero?

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  35. I don’t know how many times I’ve linked to that document, Scott, or noted the 77-23 Senate vote and the 296-133 House votes. Or the numerous Democrats quoted saying the exact same things that were supposedly lies when George Bush said them. Or to the Iraq Liberation Act which, with Bill Clinton’s signature, made regime change in Iraq the official policy of the USA.

    If I couldn’t Google this stuff in 15 seconds, I’d be tempted to believe that I’d imagined it all. But there it is, while LA and his ilk stomp in fierce denial, desperately refuting the irrefutable truth of the matter.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  36. Bush wanted this war Pablo and if you cant see that ..well then you just ought to take off the glasses and look at the facts. What in hell does it take for you to understand you been Bushwacked?
    Let me try one more time.. It doesnt matter what others thought or said Bush is the President and he attacked Iraq..and he must accept the consequences and the responsibility for the fact that the principle reason for this war has been shown to be false which means that all the soldiers who have been killed or wounded suffered in vain. Get it Pablo? Bush is responsible and all your excuses dont change that one bit..

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  37. Are you stomping your feet, Charlie? Because that would be convincing. Way better than all of those facts I just laid out.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  38. One problem: It was Gen. Franks who initially briefed OPLAN 1003-98 to Secretary Rumsfeld, and then (under pressure to reduce force levels) repeatedly presented plans calling for 300,000+ troops in the invasion force. See, for example, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor’s “Cobra II,” pages 26-29.

    So the Tommy Franks of 2007 sure seems to be questioning the judgment of the Tommy Franks of late-2002.

    Chris Bray (aad595)

  39. Even in hindsight, the decisions of Great Leader Bush and his approved minions (of whom Gen. Franks is one) are perfect beyond mortal understanding. How do the heathen not see that any deviation from the course set out in the Leader’s Half- One- Three- Five- Ten-Year Plan would have been worse, that every what-if must end in the collapse of Western Civilization.

    You would almost think, reading comments 36 and 38, that the Iraq Adventure of the Great Leader (and Dear Comrade Cheney) had not been a complete success!

    Andrew J. Lazarus (480223)

  40. You would almost think that when baby say “Waaahhhh!” mommy no give pinkee.

    nk (306f5a)

  41. If you read Frank’s biography, he seems like a speed is better, less is more kind of guy for his whole career.

    Also, I am still not convinced that the “small footprint” theory is not correct. The Soviets tried a big on in Afghanistan and also faced an insurgency and lost. We did it in ‘Nam, too.

    I also wonder about the Iraqi Army…if we hadn’t disbanded it, would we have faced rogue units more than we do today, with Shia refusing to join it, etc.? Maybe you don’t disband and keep the paychecks coming just to keep them busy though.

    Lot’s of Monday morning stuff…

    Aaron (394813)

  42. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was similar in scale to our Iraq adventure, except that a large conscript army was able to rotate troops more often. From Wikipedia.

    Between December 25th, 1979 and February 15th 1989 a total of 620,000 soldiers served with the forces in Afghanistan (though there were only 80,000-104,000 force at one time in Afghanistan).

    And Afghanistan is larger and more populous than Iraq.Soviet combat losses were not so much greater than ours either, and the difference is due in large part to our better medicine and sanitation.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (480223)

  43. Soviet combat losses were not so much greater than ours either, and the difference is due in large part to our better medicine and sanitation.

    …along with the fact that nobody is supplying the Taliban with shoulder-launched missiles to use against us.

    The Liberal Avenger (b8c7e2)

  44. …along with the fact that nobody is supplying the Taliban with shoulder-launched missiles to use against us.

    Comment by The Liberal Avenger — 4/8/2007 @ 8:39 pm

    Well, not missles…

    Though Iran is doing a brisk business in assembled/components for IEDs…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  45. From the Wikipedia Link:
    “On July 3, 1979, US President Jimmy Carter signed a directive authorizing the CIA to conduct covert propaganda operations against the revolutionary regime.
    Carter advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski stated “According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise.” Brzezinski himself played a fundamental role in crafting U.S. policy, which, unbeknownst even to the Mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy “to induce a Soviet military intervention.” In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski recalled:
    “That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap…” […]”The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War.”[11]

    President Carter enticed the Soviets to invade Afghanistan??? That’s a new one. He may have helped the fall of Nicaragua and Iran by withdrawing US support, but giving covert CIA support to a nation to entice Soviet aggression?? “That just doesn’t make any sense”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  46. MD

    The Soviets were getting it handed to them there. Of course we’d want them to send more. If you can get your enemy to wear itself out, you do what it takes…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  47. Scott-

    I understand the idea, but I find it hard to believe that Carter would do it, given the rest of his foreign policy and view toward the military. If he was that concerned about the spread of Soviet influence why did he, and the dems following, hand Nicaragua over to the Sandinistas? (Let me say that I was no fan of Somoza, and at the time I actually liked Carter’s apparent policy of not propping up tyrants because they were “our tyrants”.)

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)


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