Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Military analyst urges retreat contingency plan on field commanders in Iraq

Is Bush setting up U.S. troops for slaughter? Why does a respected defense analyst feel the need to urge field commanders to prepare for retreat, and why are political concerns overriding planning to protect the safety of American young men and women?

President Bush, here's what you do. Call it an "advance," like 4th century Greek general Xenophon called his retreat from Persia. You will save the lives of American troops. You will be hailed as a brave and wise leader. You will help your Party. These do matter to you, right?

On War #211
March 27, 2007
Operation Anabasis
By William S. Lind

One of history's most successful retreats, and certainly its most famous, is the "Retreat of the 10,000." In 401 B.C., 10,000 Greek hoplites hired themselves out as mercenaries to a Persian prince, Cyrus the Younger, who was making a grab for the Peacock Throne. Inconveniently, after the Greeks were deep in Persia, Cyrus was killed. The hoplites' leader, Xenophon, the first gentleman of war, led his men on an epic retreat through Kurdish country to the coast and home. Surprisingly, most of them made it. Safely back in Athens, Xenophon wrote up his army's story, cleverly titling it the Anabasis, which means the advance. It was not the last retreat so labeled.

Both of these threats [(cutting of supply lines by Iran or Shiite militias)] are sufficiently real that prudence, that old military virtue, suggests American forces in Iraq should have a plan for Operation Anabasis, a retreat north through Kurdish Iraq to Turkey. Higher headquarters are unlikely to develop such a plan, because if it leaked there would be political hell to pay in Washington. I would therefore strongly advise every American battalion and company in Iraq to have its own Operation Anabasis plan, a plan which relies only on its own resources and whatever it thinks it could scrounge locally. Do not, repeat, do not expect the Air Force to come in and pick you up.

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