Thursday, December 14, 2006

Letter from Orrin Hatch II

In response to an e-mail I sent to all my congresscritters, I get the following response from Sen. Hatch (R-Utah). I had advised deep-sixing the Iraq Study Group recommendations and said something pithy and trenchant about Robert Gates's confirmation, which Hatch voted for.

November 29, 2006

Dear Ms. XXXX:

Thank you for your emails of November 22nd. I appreciate your views on the possibility of discussions regarding Iraq with the Iranian and Syrian governments, the Iraq Study Group and the President's nomiation of Robert Gates to become the next Secretary of Defense.

I share your concern about the possibility of conducting negotiations with the Iranian and Syrian governments. Just this week, the President reiterated his position that if discussions are to begin with Iran, they must first address Iran's nuclear development program. Specifically, Iran must suspend it [sic] nuclear enrichment programs. Regarding Syria, I do not know how constructive talks would be, especially since that government continues to undermine peaceful efforts and initiatives not only in Iraq but also in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

I look forward to the publication of the Iraq Study Group's report. Though, I do not necessarily believe that this document should be seen as a strict plan that commits our nation to a specific course of action, I am always eager to examine new proposals and ideas on how we can obtain our goals more efficiently and effectively. This, of course, includes other proposals such as those that are being developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council. However, I will always be suspicious of any plan that calls for the withdawal of our forces from Iraq before the security situation greatly improves.

Another such initiative is due to be published this week: The New Army Field Manual for Counterinsurgency Warfare. This is a vital document that will directly address what I have heard from many returning soldiers, that the Army's culture is one that emphasizes the use of fire-power and conventional warfare rather [than] stability and counterinsurgency operations. This new doctrine will be helpful to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rest assured, irregardless [sic] of the conclusions in any of these documents, including the Iraq Study Group report, I remain committed to a course of action that achieves the goals best articulated by Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, United States Ambassador to Iraq. He stated: "Our goal is to enable Iraqis to develop a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian representative democracy…" that can fully meet its security obligations. Our mission is to provide assistance to the Iraqi government in providing security, defeating common enemies and bringing peace and stability to the nation.

Regarding your comments opposing Robert Gates's nomiation to become the next Secretary of Defense, I must respectfully disagree. I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Gates on numerous occasions and he was an excellent member of President H. W. Bush's national security team during the First Gulf War. This was highlighted by the fact [that] he was nominated and confirmed to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency shortly thereafter. Dr. Gates will also bring a foreign policy perspective to a war that increasingly requires military leaders to use political expertise. Further, he is a pragmatist, who will work with allies and make necessary changes to our tactics and initiatives. Dr. Gates has my full support.

Thank you again for your emails.

Orrin G. Hatch
United States Senator

Huh. This letter was not composed exactly for me; rather, it's a cut-and-paste from some of his previous comments on the floor of the senate, errors and all.

I Googled "New Army Field Manual for Counterinsurgency Warfare" and got exactly two hits: the one linked above from and this article from the Boston Globe, curiously dated the same day as the letter from Sen. Hatch.

A June 2006 draft of the document (240 pg, 2.4 MB) commonly called the COIN Manual (COunter INsurgency) can be found here. Should be a good read.

And in my Googling, I found Armchair Generalist, subtitled "A Progressive View on Military Affairs." I didn't read enough of it to know if this means actual progress or misnamed leftism, but the blog does provide TONS of links to official military sites, thinktanks, centers for studying this or that, and other such links. If you want to study military strategy, this would be a great place to start your research.

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