Trained For the Wrong War

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


061109-combat2

President Obama has made it the policy of his administration to reduce troop deployments in the “bad war” in Iraq while increasing the number of boots on the ground to fight the “good war” in Afghanistan. The President has followed through on the latter, but he has done so in part by diverting troops readied for combat in Iraq to a new battlefield for which they lack the necessary training – and our troops have paid the price for this political sleight of hand.

On February 17, 2009, the Defense Department announced, to great fanfare, that it was deploying an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, including the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The problem with that, which would soon become evident when the 5th Stryker entered combat, is that the Brigade was trained to fight one kind of war and then, apparently for the sake of political expediency, deployed to fight quite another.

One of the 5th Stryker’s units, the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment (1-17) has been particularly hard hit since arriving in Afghanistan last fall. The regiment has suffered twenty-one combat deaths in one battle in the Arghandab district alone. One of the battalion’s company commanders, Capt. Joel Kassulke was replaced after that action, a move that angered some of the Captain’s troops, according to this Army Times article. The problem, some soldiers said, was not their commander, but mismatched training:

The battalion had spent much of the previous two years training for combat, but preparing for the wrong theater — until February, when it got orders for Afghanistan, 1-17 was scheduled to deploy to Iraq.

However, 1-17 soldiers said their training, which had been focused on highly “kinetic” urban warfare drills such as room clearing, did not change much to accommodate the change in mission. “The COIN-intensive fight here … isn’t so much what we trained on,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Turnblom, Charlie Company’s fire support officer.

“We trained [in] urban fighting in Iraq and then they give us Afghanistan,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Hughes, Weapons Squad leader in 1st Platoon, Charlie Company. “The principles are the same but the details are day-and-night different, and we’ve learned that the hard way over the last almost five months.”

The story did not go unnoticed by military bloggers, many of whom expressed disgust over the transfer. Greyhawk, a popular military blogger among veterans and those currently serving in uniform, seethed with contempt:

Those months of training and preparation were scrapped (one example: they don’t speak Arabic in Afghanistan) so the phrase “Barack Obama diverts 17,000 soldiers from Iraq to Afghanistan” could appear in newspapers.

Not only was moving the 5th Stryker ill-considered, it was also unnecessary, at least as far as military – as opposed to political – necessity was concerned. On March 2, 2009, the administration announced, much more quietly, that the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry division would be deployed to Iraq several months earlier than planned, replacing the 5th Stryker Brigade. This move, combined with extensions for other units already on the ground in Iraq, meant that the much ballyhooed reduction in forces in Iraq hadn’t occurred at all.

An officer currently serving in Iraq told me that the results of these shell games have had the predictable demoralizing effect on the military, already distressed by the increased politicization of their mission. Training for different theaters, he said, simply doesn’t translate.

“The major difference is the language training, Iraqis speak Arabic and the Afghans speak Pashto or Afghan Persian, but not Arabic,” he said. “Additionally if a unit was training to deploy to Baghdad or another urban center in Iraq the tactics techniques and procedures would differ considerably than those used in the mostly rural Afghanistan.  There are also things like culture classes and theater specific training that wouldn’t be the same because obviously the cultures and lifestyles are different.”

We’ve seen this kind of politically-motivated micromanagement of the military before. Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara frustrated many a commander in Vietnam by their interference in what should have been purely military decisions. In his zeal to end a war he never supported, President Obama seems to be following in their footsteps.

  • eerie Steve

    Good God. Was there actually an executive order specifying that Stryker unites, designed specifically for urban combat, be sent to Afghanistan, a mountainous region, which lead to 21 deaths?

    This is up there with Clinton loosing the nuclear football. Not only a blunder, but an example of a dunderheaded Baby Huey giving executive action at a superhuman executive function. Some sort of retarded worm hole of American power.

    Can we now at least agree that George W. Bush's presidency really wasn't that bad when you have a historical reference frame of:

    1990-2001: Al Qaeda buildup
    2000-2008: Millions of people freed and al Qaeda effectively destroyed
    2008-2010: Free healthcare if you want it and the first minority president

    So to me, that is top 5 potential for W. Just keep the Obama monster alive and conservatives can go for "glorious" achievements and we will be fine.

    How about redesigning the Stryker to use IED's as a source of propulsion, and it drills down into Afghanistan to make our own cave. Just fill it up with female Marines and you got Dyke Hike Part II.

    • Theolonious

      HECK YEAH WE CAN AGREE DUBYA wasn't bad.

      New World Order & social spending aside DUBYA never politicized SOLDIERS LIVES.

      I served under what's left after you pick out the peanuts, SHIT FOR BRAINS JIMMAH Carter.

      Can you say DEJA VUE.

      Carter deemed all us citizens too stupid to understand him just like OBAMA is now doing claiming his DIARRHEA of the TELEPROMPTER hasn't been adequate. That PLITO speak for the American People are just too damn dumb to comprehend what he is mendastically LYING ABOUT.

  • donnamarie

    Unless we train the troops correctly, place them in places for where they are trained, give them all (and I mean all) the equipment they need and allow them to do their jobs-I say bring them home. I really do not want our troops used for cannon fodder to make the elites believe that they are doing something good and making us safer.

  • bardefa

    Look for potential terrorists (all 9/11 murderers were…what?)……
    Stop fulfilling Bin Laden's: "for every dollar I spend, USA has to spend ONE MILLION DOLLARS."
    Our soldiers will soon have nothing to do abroad and may come back home.
    BTW – start drilling here!!! Remember BAD, JOBLESS ECONOMY?

  • http://www.exposethemedia.com Liz

    What do you expect when you have a community organizer and a bunch of far left government drones running the show? It makes me sick, and I pray the military can find a way around our incompetent Commander-in-Chief. It's too bad no one in the big media, other than front page mag, is talking about this.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ElroyJetson CallaTeYa!

    They try to make us regret getting into wars because they want the large amounts of money spent on wars spent on their disabling socialist programs. Troopies, in the meantime, have always been view as political pawns when the left knows they can't shut down the war for whatever reason. I gotta admit, I'm with you, donnamarie. No war has ever benefitted from politicization.

    • eerie Steve

      unless war is very profitable to trade unions, which it is and will be again with all those striker vehicles. Cast iron is going to make a come back. Invest in USX Steel!

      PR 10 <;)

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/ElroyJetson CallaTeYa!

        I could see that but ya gotta wonder how many lefties are going to lower their earth-hugger standards to try to profit in something as earth-hateful as a steel mill. Whoa, sorry, I'm back. 'Took a little trip, there, without having actually left the farm.

  • eerie Steve

    bin Laden says some funny things. No, little child, it is more like I am going to take all your money before I kill you. It is like I am going to use your resources before I use mine, because you declared war on me. It is like because you sneak theived me, I will torture you.

    Hot sun? Well bucket of water beats land of sand any day. Beheading video? How about drowning you over, and over and over again. Why kill you when I can keep you alive!

    You know what beats the mountain of vipers? Well blood geizing mountain in a vacuum always works. How about just a void with sh!t emitting from it. Yes we got one of those too. It goes Thhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-SPLAT! All things Arab end in a splat. It is just the build up that matter, ain't that right?

    I would like to see the Stryker be upgraded to Stryker II and start some flywheel energy storage and capacitate a laser which just poxes the Afghani mountains. Then put treads on the Stryker and a flamethrower and just do some Iwo Jima stuff on those guys. Yes Khaled. Killing you will be more easy than how we killed Zarqawi. How much does a friggin needle cost.

  • USMCSniper

    Trainining Lesson for the day instead of this hearts and mind and nation building bullshit:

    Hartman: "And we love our beloved power ladies,"

    Marines: "Semper five, do or die, gung ho gung ho gung ho." Hartman: "What makes the grass grow?"

    Marines: "Blood, blood, blood."

    Hartman: "What do we do for a living, ladies,"

    Marines: "Kill, kill, kill."

    Hartman: "I can't hear you."

    Marines: "Kill, kill, kill."

    Hartman: "Bullshit, I still can't hear you."

    Marines: "Kill, kill, kill."

    Allah has a hard-on for Marines because we kill every raghead we see! He plays His games, we play ours! To show our appreciation for so much power, we keep heaven packed with fresh raghead souls! ! Do you ladies understand?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

      Unfortunately allah won't be the only one with a hard-on for Marines after our enlightened precedent eliminates the 'don't ask don't tell' policy.

      That oughtta help boost morale, huh?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/pappy86us pappy86us

    This article does't surprise me at all! As a former Marine, it sickens me to know that our troops are basically a pawn for our current administration. Unfortunately, this President is too much into appealing to the "Left", and not thinking about the welfare of the troops, or for the security of the people of the United States. What this administration has done with its inept decision making, and " looking at all our options" policy, is fill body bags. Our military has a lot of smart Officers, and NCO s, that know what they are doing. Its unfortunate that this administration can not look to the past and see what happens when politicians run a war.

    • eerie Steve

      (Best Dennis Miller Impression)

      lookGuys, this entire Marine Sniper following I am receiving now on frontpagemag.com is getting a little too fisher king someone is going to Eric and Harris a latte cube in my name and my name only and then call the Rush Limbaugh show bragging all about it.

      How about directing that testerone in a more direct effort, ie doing simply what the Daily Kos did. Look there are only so many google bucks to go around and they need a pump and dump. Hey, genius can only play with legos so long, so simply bookmark this rant and pump and dump on Dave's website. Just end it with this following phrase:

      PR 10

    • http://www.itecode.com pr 10

      hmmmmm. What sickens me is the failure of my conservative campaigns. Do you know the longer articles are updated the more money Mr. Horowitz would make on this site? So just check in with the words PR (pagerank) 10 at the end of every post and naturally this site will rise in google rankings, and then be around longer.

      It is sort of what the libs did to W. and the miserable failure routine. Here, look:

      PR 10 !!!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/pappy86us pappy86us

    eeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it DEVIL DOG!!!!

    • eerie Steve

      I don't. I like keeping Princes alive so not only do I eat their hearts, my back molars break off and ache my gums which there fore aches my heart because the heart of the prince became so callous off the evil they did and they riches I sacked from their lands……

      ….and I still like it.

      The only pain that matters is the pain given to the "collective" enemies my friends.

      Siemper Fie! And keep Obama running. He's doing a bang up job there, brownie!

  • bropous

    Thank you, USMC Sniper, and all of Uncle Sam's Misfit Children. In seven years of fighting, all of you have freed over seventy MILLION human beings and established a future for two countries that had none (and YES, I think we CAN do the job in Afghanistan).

  • http://www.harry-dowling.net exeldot smith
  • Barry Cooper

    I was talking with an Army guy who did get Arabic training for Iraq, but their teacher spoke the Egyptian dialect, which is apparently quite different.

    It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to get these things right.

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  • Billsocal

    Comrade Obama's admenistration does not believe that we will ever be fighting a nation against nation war again, that they are a thing of the past. This what happens when the American public elects a person who has no grasp of history. We saw this in his State of the Union address when he stated the the SOTCUS did away with a 200 yr old law about Corp. using their money for political ads. That is just totally wrong and he was a law profressor. When Comrade Obama can not get his US history right, how can he led us in a war.

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