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United States faces prospect of defeat in Iraq

The United States faces the prospect of defeat in Iraq, An active duty U.S. Army officer warns. He blames American big Generals for failing to prepare their forces for an insurgency and deluding Congress about the situation here.

"For reasons that are not yet clear, America's general officer corps underestimated the strength of the enemy, overestimated the capabilities of Iraq's government and security forces, and failed to provide Congress with an accurate assessment of security conditions in Iraq," Lt. Col. Paul Yingling said in the article published Friday in the Armed Forces Journal.

The generals not only went into Iraq preparing for a high-technology conventional war with too few soldiers, they also had no coherent plan for postwar stabilization. The generals also failed to tell the American public about the intensity of the insurgency their forces were facing, Yingling wrote.

"The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship," he said.

Several retired generals have made similar comments, but such public criticism from an active duty officer is rare. It suggests that misgivings about the conduct of the Iraq war are widespread in the officer corps at a critical time in the troubled U.S. military mission here.

Asked for his reaction in Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, said: "Lt. Col. Yingling wrote an article that expresses his personal opinions in a professional journal. We of Multinational ForceIraq are focused on executing the mission at hand."

Yingling served as deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He has served two tours in Iraq, another in Bosnia and a fourth in Iraq's Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

He attended the Army's elite School for Advanced Military Studies and has written for one of the Army's top professional journals, Military Review.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said the Iraqi government plans to take full control of security from the American-led forces before the end of the year. In February, coalition forces launched the Baghdad security plan, which calls for 28,000 additional American troops, as well as thousands of Iraqi soldiers, most of whom will be deployed in violent Baghdad.

Yingling appeared to welcome that change, but suggested it is too little too late.

"For most of the war American forces in Iraq have concentrated on large forward operating bases, isolated from the Iraqi people and focused on capturing or killing insurgents," he wrote. "In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends an even wider and more destructive regional war."

During the past decade, U.S. forces have done little to prepare for the kind of brutal, adaptive insurgencies they are now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Yingling said.

"Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq," he wrote.

Yingling said he believes that no single civilian or military leader has caused what he regards as the current failure in Iraq.

But U.S. Gen. Tommy R. Franks, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and other top commanders in the Iraq war have been criticized by others as too slow to figure out the realities of the Iraq war and too optimistic in their assessments.

Yingling said the U.S. Congress must reform and better monitor the military officer promotion system it has to choose generals. The Senate should use its confirmation powers to hold accountable officers who fail to achieve U.S. aims.

"We still have time to select as our generals those who possess the intelligence to visualize future conflicts and the moral courage to advise civilian policy makers on the preparations needed for our security," he wrote.

The Armed Forces Journal and its Web site are published by Army Times Publishing Co., a part of Gannett Company, Inc., and the world's largest publisher of professional military and defense periodicals. The company's publications serve all branches of the U.S. military, the global defense community and the U.S. federal government.

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