Directions on Iraq: Day 3

Contributor Presentations

Shivaji Sondhi and Michael Cook, Co-Directors of the Project on Oil, Energy and the Middle East at Princeton University, have posted some additional thoughts on Iraq fueled by the discussion in the colloquium thus far.

John Burgess has completed the second installment in his guide to the players in the Middle East. This installment addresses Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Adjunct posts

Col. Pat Lang critiques the the Kean-Kagan plan for a major offensive in Iraq as “Stalingrad on the Tigris”.

World Bank maven Pundita posts a conversation on Iraq illuminating a perspective that’s outside my realm of experience.

There were several relevant posts at that caught my attention:
Simulated annealing and Iraq strategy
Six Nation Theory: Reflections on Power Politics in a Changing Middle East

Previous installments

Day 1

Day 2

8 comments… add one
  • dave, someone sent me this.
    i thot u and John might like it too.

    social network theory.

  • i wrote it up, with the Army Counterinsurgency Manual stuff.

  • the Army Counterinsurgency Manual was released december 15

    you can download a pdf here

  • Dave:

    I hope you’re going to explain why we’re sending a second carrier group to the Gulf. I am mystefied.

  • M. Takhallus,

    According the “officials” cited in the report, it would be intended as a show of force to Iran. I don’t see that as a huge issue though since having two carriers in the region is hardly unique. It’s rare to have two operating simultaneously in the Gulf though, mainly because managing airspace is a pain. It’s not clear that both carriers would physically be in the Gulf at the same time though. Often, one will be in the Gulf and the second in the Arabian or Red Sea.

    If this is, indeed, a show of force and nothing more, then it seems like a pretty stupid idea in my opinion. Its already been shown that such demonstrations never influence Iran in the manner we wish – typically Iran will respond with some kind of military exercise of it’s own. It could be an attempt to remind Iran that even though we appear to be bogged-down in Iraq, we still have the capability to strike them if needed. Iran is not stupid, though, and they are well aware of our capabilities, so in all it sounds like basic posturing to me.

  • Andy:

    That’s my reading, too. I just don’t understand why anyone imagines a show of force is useful right now. What do they suppose it will accomplish? I think the Iranians will be more baffled than cowed.

  • MT, I think that your and Andy’s take is probably the correct one. I wonder how long this exercise ahs been scheduled.

    I also wonder, generally, how effective a show of force can be in dealing with a face culture. It might have the opposite of its intended effect.

  • Dave,

    Typically there are two carrier strike groups deployed at any one time – one based on the US west coast and one based on the east coast. The Eisenhower, an east coast carrier, has been in the middle east since late October. The Stennis is the next west coast carrier that will likely deploy as it has completed all it’s pre-deployment training. It is probably scheduled to depart sometime in January, so the Stennis would likely be the 2nd carrier referenced in the article.

    Carrier deployments are scheduled pretty far in advance and they have a regular rotation. Maintenance and predeployment training occur over 6-9 months prior to a deployment and are critical to make the ship and airwing combat-ready, so unless there is a severe crisis, the deployment schedules are pretty firm. So in my estimation the Stennis deployment is routine, but it’s not clear if it was originally scheduled to go to the Gulf or loiter in the western Pacific. I did two deployments on carriers and what is scheduled is often changed just prior or during a deployment depending on what’s going on in the world. Given our commitments in the Gulf region, I’d be the Stennis was planning on going there anyway, but it’s impossible to say for certain.

    I also agree with your comment on face cultures. I don’t see much utility in this type of veiled threat. I would not at all be surprised to see some kind of Iranian “exercise” in response, perhaps in late February or March.

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