I know he's out the door but folks should think twice about dumping all the blame of our rough patch in Iraq on Donald Rumsfeld's stubbornness and refusal to listen to a generals on increasing troop strength in Iraq when in reality he was following military doctrine with regards to fighting a classic counter-insurgency as well as trying to avoid the problems that plagued us with regards to Vietnam. If you want to really understand what's behind Secretary Rumsfeld's thinking with regards to troop strength and our current fight in Iraq, I recommend you take a look at this post in The Corner by historian Victor Davis Hanson:
So we are down to his supposed responsibility for the later effort to stop the 3-year plus insurgency, whose denouement is not yet known. Rumsfeld's supposed error that drew such ire was troop levels, i.e., that he did not wish to repeat a huge presence in the manner of Vietnam, but sought to skip the 1964-1971 era morass, and go directly to the 1972-5 Vietnamization strategy of training troops, providing aid, and using air power.One can assume from VDH's post that instead of Rumsfeld being a ideologue who was doing things his way and the hell with others(Like Robert McNamara) the Defense chief was indeed an individual who studied his history and was well versed in what it takes and how right he was in referring to our war against Islamic fundamentalism as a "long hard slog."
I think he was right, and that most troops in Iraq today would agree. I was just talking to a Marine Lt. back from Haditha and Hit; his chief worry was not too few Americans, but rather Iraqi Security Forces insidiously expecting Americans to do their own security patrolling. Since sending in tens of thousands to do a Grozny-like smash-up is both politically impossible and antithetical to American policy, I don't see the advantage of more troops at all, especially when we will soon near 400,000 Iraqis in arms, which, together with coalition forces of ca. 150,000, would in theory provide 555,000Âor more than the "peacetime" army of Saddam's. As a rule in history, it is not just the size, but the nature, rules of engagement, and mission, of armies that matter.
For the future, neither precipitous withdrawal nor a big build-up are the right solutions, the former will leave chaos, the latter will only ensure perpetual Iraqi dependency. As it is, there are too many support troops over in Iraq in compounds, who are not out with Iraqis themselves; more troops will only ensure an even bigger footprint and more USA-like enclaves. Abezaid, Casey, Petraeus, McMaster, etc. understand counter-insurgency and the need for a long-term commitment that marries political autonomy for the Iraqis with American aid, commandos, and air support. Rumsfeld supported them all.
If you want to further your understanding on the thinking behind our counter-insurgency fight in Iraq and elsewhere, then I recommend you take a look at the Marine's Small Wars Manual, Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace, C.E. Callwell's Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice, John A. Nagl's Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam, or Lewis Sorley's A Better War.