British Officer challenges American tactics in Iraq.




 
--
 
January 12th, 2006  
Rabs
 
 

Topic: British Officer challenges American tactics in Iraq.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story...684561,00.html

Quote:
US army in Iraq institutionally racist, claims British officer

Richard Norton-Taylor and Jamie Wilson in Washington
Thursday January 12, 2006
The Guardian


A senior British officer has criticised the US army for its conduct in Iraq, accusing it of institutional racism, moral righteousness, misplaced optimism, and of being ill-suited to engage in counter-insurgency operations.The blistering critique, by Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, who was the second most senior officer responsible for training Iraqi security forces, reflects criticism and frustration voiced by British commanders of American military tactics.
What is startling is the severity of his comments - and the decision by Military Review, a US army magazine, to publish them.
American soldiers, says Brig Aylwin-Foster, were "almost unfailingly courteous and considerate". But he says "at times their cultural insensitivity, almost certainly inadvertent, arguably amounted to institutional racism".
The US army, he says, is imbued with an unparalleled sense of patriotism, duty, passion and talent. "Yet it seemed weighed down by bureaucracy, a stiflingly hierarchical outlook, a predisposition to offensive operations and a sense that duty required all issues to be confronted head-on."
Brig Aylwin-Foster says the American army's laudable "can-do" approach paradoxically led to another trait, namely "damaging optimism". Such an ethos, he says, "is unhelpful if it discourages junior commanders from reporting unwelcome news up the chain of command".
But his central theme is that US military commanders have failed to train and educate their soldiers in the art of counter-insurgency operations and the need to cultivate the "hearts and minds" of the local population.
While US officers in Iraq criticised their allies for being too reluctant to use force, their strategy was "to kill or capture all terrorists and insurgents: they saw military destruction of the enemy as a strategic goal in its own right". In short, the brigadier says, "the US army has developed over time a singular focus on conventional warfare, of a particularly swift and violent kind".
Such an unsophisticated approach, ingrained in American military doctrine, is counter-productive, exacerbating the task the US faced by alienating significant sections of the population, argues Brig Aylwin-Foster.
What he calls a sense of "moral righteousness" contributed to the US response to the killing of four American contractors in Falluja in the spring of 2004. As a "come-on" tactic by insurgents, designed to provoke a disproportionate response, it succeeded, says the brigadier, as US commanders were "set on the total destruction of the enemy".
He notes that the firing on one night of more than 40 155mm artillery rounds on a small part of the city was considered by the local US commander as a "minor application of combat power". Such tactics are not the answer, he says, to remove Iraq from the grip of what he calls a "vicious and tenacious insurgency".
Brig Aylwin-Foster's criticisms have been echoed by other senior British officers, though not in such a devastating way. General Sir Mike Jackson, the head of the army, told MPs in April 2004 as US forces attacked Falluja: "We must be able to fight with the Americans. That does not mean we must be able to fight as the Americans."
Yesterday Colonel William Darley, the editor of Military Review, told the Guardian: "This [Brig Aylwin-Foster] is a highly regarded expert in this area who is providing a candid critique. It is certainly not uninformed ... It is a professional discussion and a professional critique among professionals about what needs to be done. What he says is authoritative and a useful point of perspective whether you agree with it or not." In a disclaimer he says the article does not reflect the views of the UK or the US army.
Colonel Kevin Benson, director of the US army's school of advanced military studies, who told the Washington Post the brigadier was an "insufferable British snob", said his remark had been made in the heat of the moment. "I applaud the brigadier for starting the debate," he said. "It is a debate that must go on and I myself am writing a response."
The brigadier was deputy commander of the office of security transition for training and organising Iraq's armed forces in 2004. Last year he took up the post of deputy commander of the Eufor, the European peacekeeping force in Bosnia. He could not be contacted last night.
I think he actaully complimented the US army more than he hurt their feelings.
January 12th, 2006  
bulldogg
 
 
I am not there so I cannot say if he is right or not, but it rings true were I to compare his comments to what the US Army was like when I was in. He raises some valid issues about fighting an insurgency and I would daresay the British know a helluva lot more about this than the US does... but like I said, I am not in Iraq... TI??
January 12th, 2006  
Whispering Death
 
 
"institutional racism" part is probobly quite off, I don't think Brits understand what that term means in America where we actually had real racism.

Outside of that line, "moral righteousness, misplaced optimism, and of being ill-suited to engage in counter-insurgency operations" seems to be accurate.

I found the first 1/2 of the article to be agreeable and the second half to be disagreeable. Some things are objective truth and some things may be just differences in American armed theory and English armed theory.
--
January 12th, 2006  
RnderSafe
 
 
I have already had to remove two posts from this thread. If you have nothing constructive to add, do not post.

If anyone is interested in reading the real report by the Brigadier, without the sensationalism and bias, click here:

http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/C...c05/aylwin.pdf
January 12th, 2006  
Missileer
 
 
I think the fact that US and British battle tactics have been different through our long relation is and always has been well known. As to which "style" is best, it seems that a combination of both has served both Countries well in past conflicts. As long as one continues to complement the other, well, it's hard to argue with success.

I do have a problem with people writing these types of articles while we're still engaged with an enemy. There will be plenty of time for critiques after the war.
January 12th, 2006  
redcoat
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Missileer
I do have a problem with people writing these types of articles while we're still engaged with an enemy. There will be plenty of time for critiques after the war.
Won't that be a little late, if we hope to win this one ????
January 12th, 2006  
Missileer
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
Won't that be a little late, if we hope to win this one ????
Not unless there's a revelation of some kind that will turn the tide instead of demonstrating disarray within the coalition.
There have been a few victories using these same tactics, most notably WWI and II. Hard to argue with success.
January 13th, 2006  
Whispering Death
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Missileer
I do have a problem with people writing these types of articles while we're still engaged with an enemy. There will be plenty of time for critiques after the war.
I don't agree with that at all. If what we're doing isn't effective than we need to change it. Just because one Brittish officer disagrees with our methods doesn't mean the alience is showing weakness! We should welcome well-intentioned criticism from our allies, they have different fighting styles and maybe we can learn from that, or maybe not, but it doesn't hurt to have the outside perspective.
January 13th, 2006  
RnderSafe
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Missileer
I do have a problem with people writing these types of articles while we're still engaged with an enemy. There will be plenty of time for critiques after the war.
That is the media. The Guardian, like most rags, has been in the habit of trying to get a rise, rather than reporting the news. Just another example of the media stooges taking what was actually said out of context.

If you read the original report, it is far less inflammatory, and many of his observations are spot on. He's far more complimentary of US forces than he is critical.
January 13th, 2006  
Chief Bones
 
 
The Guardian has a certain 'odor' in polite society which leads me to question their "impartiality".

Having said that, there is a very very very very small kernel of a valid question in their questioning institutional racism in the US military.

As hard as we have worked to remove the last of the racism from our ranks, there is still a lingering 'hint' of the institutional leaning towards a way of life that the United States is still struggling with - namely the feeling of superiority because of the overwhelming power displayed by our armed forces and the question of the role of blacks in the military.

The unfair treatment of blacks in the military has been ALMOST COMPLETELY wiped out - what little bit remains is quickly addressed as soon as it surfaces.

The force superiority can be viewed by some people as 'racism' if that is the way they lean to start with. Let's face it, many countries in the middle east already have a bad opinion of the US and it's only a short step to accuse our forces of being racist.

Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster's comments lead me to believe that he 'may' have a personal agenda. I have no way to prove or disprove this feeling but the tenor of his comments are suspect to me.

Add the fact that this article was published in the Guardian and my suspicions are probably not far off the mark.