WASHINGTON – When it comes to the troop surge in Iraq, a bunch of arm chair generals in Washington are influencing the Bush Administration as much as the Joint Chiefs or theater commanders.
A group of military experts at the American Enterprise Institute, concerned that the U.S. was on the verge of a calamitous failure in Iraq, almost single handedly convinced the White House to change its strategy.
They banded together at AEI headquarters in downtown Washington early last December and hammered out the surge plan during a weekend session. It called for two major initiatives to defeat the insurgency: reinforcing the troops and restoring security to Iraqi neighborhoods. Then came trips to the White House by AEI military historian Frederick Kagan, retired Army Gen. John Keane and other surge proponents.
More and more officials began attending the sessions. Even Vice President Dick Cheney came. “We took the results of our planning session immediately to people in the administration,” said AEI analyst Thomas Donnelly, a surge planner. “It became sort of a magnet for movers and shakers in the White House.” Donnelly said the AEI approach won out over plans from the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command. The two Army generals then in charge of Iraq had opposed a troop increase.
Quite aside from whether the surge is working or not (I have no idea, although the continuing death tolls in Iraq would suggest it hasn’t done much outside of a few areas), should think-tankers trump generals in planning wars? Isn’t this what you always learn is a bad thing for military performance — like Hitler taking over war-planning from the Wehrmacht? (Obviously I am not comparing the AEI to the Nazi Party, trolls.)