The two generals, who played a critical role in the planning and execution of the invasion of Iraq, spoke at a panel on the Iraq war after its 20th anniversary, at the Emma Sky American Entrprise Institute think tank, who was the Governor of Kirkuk of the coalition forces during the Iraq War.
Former US Deputy Commander of Land Forces Keane said that in December 2001, then Chief of General Staff General Dick Myers gathered the force commanders and decided to declare war on Iraq and that everyone, especially himself, was surprised.
Keane said, “I asked why. He said he didn’t know. When? I asked him, he said he did not know, and he said that the decision was taken that day, that the Central Command Command (CENTCOM) was ordered to prepare to enter the war in Iraq to overthrow the Saddam regime. The plan was never consulted with us. None of us were asked for their opinion.” said.
Keane stated that Iraq was the primary directive given to them, and that after that day, Afghanistan remained in the background.
Expressing that they did not calculate that Saddam Hussein might not surrender and start a war of resistance in the planning, Keane said that this was the weakest link of the plan.
The retired general said that after the occupation was completed and the regime was overthrown, in early 2004, it was planned that the mission of the US army would be changed and that the security command would be given to the newly built Iraqi army, and this decision was taken too early.
Explaining that the direct attacks of the insurgents started to increase and the course of the war became more complicated at that time, Keane said that they had clear intelligence in September 2004 that they had the opinion that the insurgents were close to winning the war.
Keane said that he told then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that he should raise this issue to the president and that a briefing was given at the White House in December on the escalating insurgent conflicts, but Bush’s actions were taken because then-US President George W. Bush was given reports that the issue of resistance was not important. He said he didn’t pay attention to the briefing.
Keane, who stated that the dose of violence increased in Iraq in 2005, said that he gave a briefing to Bush in December 2005 and that they convinced the US leader to change the strategy.
Keane stated that he recommended Petraeus to Bush to take over the command in Iraq, and said that the generals in charge of the Iraq operations, the CENTCOM commander and the force commanders were tired of the soldiers and were ready to accept the result when the conflict intensified.
Petraeus says disintegration of institutions complicates things
Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA Director, who made a name for himself in the Iraq War, said that they thought that their institutional structures would remain in place when they took Iraq and overthrew the regime, but the disintegration of all structures with the invasion turned their plans to manage the invasion.
Petraeus said that another mistake was that the first decision of the “Coalition Provincial Governors” was to terminate the units affiliated with the Iraqi army and security forces and dismiss the soldiers.
Instead, the retired general stated that the soldiers should be disarmed, retrained and integrated into the army, “This decision became the seeds of resistance.” said.
The former US general stated that they could not adequately understand the sociological turmoil of Iraq before going to war, and that they could not calculate the fine lines between the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq, except for some simplified regional divisions.
Emma Sky, who was sent by the UK to advise the military authorities in the Iraqi operations and was assigned to the Kirkuk Provincial Governorate, said in the panel, “While I had not even been mayor of a town in England before, I found myself as the governor of a large province (Kirkuk) in another country.” used the phrases.
While retired generals criticize the decisions of coalition governors, Sky blamed the soldiers for complicating matters in Iraq.
Expressing that the American soldiers intervened in everything in the city, causing a series of problems to solve a few problems, Sky stated that they only managed the business with a simple understanding such as “Kurds are good, Arabs are bad”.
“One day, when I sat down with them and took notes, criticizing what they were doing and threatening to put them on trial in The Hague, I realized that we couldn’t take the Americans to The Hague.” said.
The former diplomat said, “Immediately after the invasion, mass graves were opened where hundreds of thousands of people were buried. It was a very traumatized society. There was a traumatized society with hope for a better future, but the result was lawlessness, chaos, and the death of more than half a million Iraqis, the number of which we cannot know for sure.” he said.