Confirming What We've Suspected

I usually try to wait a while to let sources like this get vetted.  With the proviso that it may turn out that this guy didn't have the access he says he had, this certainly is pretty damning, though I don't think many Bush critics will be surprised.  This is a quote in a local paper from an interview of Brigadier General Mark Scheid, who claims to be one of the top planners for the Iraq war (Hat tip:  Orin Kerr at Volokh, emphasis added)

A day or two [after 9/11], Rumsfeld was "telling us we were going to
war in Afghanistan and to start building the war plan. We were going to
go fast.

Then, just as we were barely into Afghanistan ... Rumsfeld came and told us to get ready for Iraq." . . .

Planning was kept very hush-hush in those early days.

"There was only a handful of people, maybe five or six, that were
involved with that plan because it had to be kept very, very quiet."

There was already an offensive plan in place for Iraq, Scheid said. And
in the beginning, the planners were just expanding on it.

"Whether we were going to execute it, we had no idea," Scheid said.

Eventually other military agencies - like the transportation and Army materiel commands - had to get involved.

They couldn't just "keep planning this in the dark," Scheid said.

Planning continued to be a challenge.

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that
everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to
go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to
leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Scheid said the planners continued to try "to write what was called
Phase 4," or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion
operations like occupation.

Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we have to plan for it," Scheid said.

"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next
person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for
Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops
that people talk about today.

"He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war."

If true, this is hard to defend.  I guess the administration could argue that they didn't want to clutter up their core planning effort with contingencies.  Beyond this being pretty bad planning practice, it also makes no sense because at the time this planning started, according to the administration time line, the Iraq War itself was just a contingency.

  • Bill

    "If true, this is hard to defend."

    Somehow, however, this doesn't smell right. I'd be amazed if there had not been a prepared contingency plan for Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld is far to savvy to make some of the comments Scheid attributes to him.

    Note that the original newspaper article repeats the long-discredited tale that Shinseki was "replaced." He was, in the normal course of business, after his term expired.

    Is this not perhaps a bit of getting back by one whose career has ended at the one star level? I'd like to see a good bit more to back this up before I gave it much credibility.

  • larryh

    So Scheid was in a planning group which did not deal with a post-invasion situation. I'm confident that other groups were looking at that setup. My career as a chemical engineer in petroleum refining introduced me to how we tried to plan for innumerable possibilities. Operations planning and economics was a CONSTANT process; it entailed a LARGE NUMBER of combinations! In the military they would look at the lives at stake, the logistics and cost, and the careers of the top brass that're on the line(their egos are at stake so need I say more?)

    There's reason to be skeptical; or Rumsfeld is indeed a buffoon.

  • There's a military contingency plan somewhere in a Pentagon file cabinet for a war with Canada. Bet on it.

    Frankly I'm rather disinclined to give credibility to the notion that any thought of planning an occupation was shot down as inconceivable. The overwhelming majority of contingencies that military planners focus on are longshots. They do it because in life, sometimes the longshots happen.

    Rumsfeld would know this, even if somehow Bush didn't.

  • David

    I just finished reading "Fiasco" by Thomas Ricks. I expected a hatchet job on Bush - but he spreads the blame around and mostly on Rumsfeld and Wolfawitz. But the major theme of the book is the total lack of planning for Phase Four. He has numerous and extensive quotes from current and ex-military about how badly the post-invasion planning was.

  • Is Rumsfeld an Underpants Gnome?

    Phase 1: Collect Underpants
    Phase 2: ...
    Phase 3: Profit!

    Now to be more serious, not planning for the post-invasion is much worse than poorly planning for the post-invasion. If Rumsfeld actually prevented post-invasion planning I can't even conceptualize the words to describe how bad that is.

    I'll have to check, but I thought that Rummy did offer to resign after the 2004 election. If and when George W. writes (has ghost-written) his autobiography, he'd better have a whole chapter on why Rumsfeld was left in charge.