Andrew of Arabia

Andrew Olmsted is headed to Iraq:

It seems that the situation in Iraq is worse than I thought. The Army has accepted my application to active duty and is sending me to Iraq as commander of a battalion MiTT team. That means I’ll embed with an Iraqi battalion and I and my team will attempt to train and assist that battalion to be able to stand on their own and serve the Iraqi government. Yes, I’m aware of the inherent difficulties in that mission, so you needn’t fill my comments with wry observations about what you think about the Iraqi Army. In about six months, I’ll be able to provide some firsthand experience, and we’ll see what comes of that.

A whole lot more Andrew Olmsteds commanding a lot more MiTT’s earlier in this thing would have been our best chance of success at this mission. I fear it’s too little, too late at this point but it’s a lot a more sane approach than simply sending random infantrymen to do … something.

My best wishes to Andrew for both mission success and a safe return for him and his men.

An aside: One of the dangers of reading these things via RSS feed is the lack of context. My first thought was that it is indeed worse than he thought if they’re sending Andrew Sullivan….

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Iraq War, Military Affairs, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Wayne says:

    Thinking it is worst than thought just because they accepted a volunteer is jumping to conclusions. They have been doing that for decades. I will be interested in what he thinks after about six months in county.
    Pre deployment and initial deployment won’t tell us much since he won’t have a firm grip on the situation until he has been there a little while. It is almost always chaotic when you first get your feet wet and are not familiar which hoops you got to jump through.

    Having more MITT over there earlier may or may not have been wise. It wouldn’t be any good to have them sitting around there if there was a lack of personnel, equipment or facilities to train. It takes time to screen applicants to minimize the enemy from infiltration the ranks. Equipment and facilities could be improvised in a short order but that would lower the quality of training and moral of trainees. Sometime you have to let situation develop before you deploy your assets or you end up wasting some of them.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Wayne: I think Andrew was being self-deprecating rather than analytical there.

    As to the timing, there have been Iraqi military and police units from the get-go. Indeed, were it not for the stupid extreme de-Baathification was taken, the task would have been far easier.

  3. Wayne says:

    I thought you both were saying that in tough and cheek but with your follow on criticism, I wasn’t quite sure. I like sarcasm but think people should be careful and clarify it is in humor since many of the left will take it and run with it as a serous statement. Liberals love taking people words and twist and warp it to no end and they have the nerve to call other liars.

    As for your second point, I’m not sure. My personal hunch is we were too aggressive in disbanding of the former police and government but that is just a hunch. Also, to leave the previous government structure mostly in place would have been of great risk. The Saddam loyalist would have been in positions of influence that could have greatly facilitated the insurgents and terrorist in such areas as supplies lines, movement, intelligence, and much more. Then where would we be?

    I personally think they greatest harm have and will occur from the Democrats and MSM undermining this war. Were there military mistakes? Yes but nothing compare to the harm the Dems, MSM and lack of backbone of the American people have done.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Wayne: We tried and quickly reversed ourselves in postwar Germany. The bottom line is that you need the former regime bureaucrats for their expertise. You might get rid of the top two or three guys–the equivalent of our political appointees–but not the rank and file civil servants.

  5. Wayne says:


    I don’t totally disagree but the balance is the tricky part. Germany was pounded hard and almost all including top generals were ready for peace. Also as we have learned from history, so have our enemy. Governments now plan for insurgencies and place personnel in key places to help those insurgencies. There is also the fact that those in power who are use to corruption will continue that corruption if they remain in power after and government turnover. There are many examples of that especially on the African continent.

    It is a tough job but it can be done. Just not in the 30 minutes that most want to do it in.

  6. anjin-san says:

    30 minutes? What the hell are you talking about Wayne? We won WW2 in less time then Bush has spent fumbling around aimlessly in Iraq.

  7. McGehee says:

    We won WW2 in less time then Bush has spent fumbling around aimlessly in Iraq.

    You’re mixing concepts, Anjin. The “we won WW2” would correspond to the three weeks it took to finish defeating Saddam’s regime.

    The “fumbling around aimlessly” you’re griping about corresponds, in many respects, to the 45 years between the fall of Hitler and the end of the Cold War.

  8. Wayne says:

    The ”Iraq took longer than WWII” was blown out of the water in a post a few weeks ago!