This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Jan. 11, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: For days now, however, Washington has been buzzing with talk that the U.S. is now losing the war in Iraq. That U.S. forces are not enough and that the insurgency is growing faster than the U.S. can train Iraqi forces to suppress it. So what would it take to put down such an uprising?
For answers we turn to FOX News military analyst, retired Army General and military historian, Robert Scales.
Bob, welcome back.
GEN. ROBERT SCALES (RET.), FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Hi, Brit.
HUME: Nice to have you.
In classic military doctrine, what is it thought to require to suppress an insurgency?
SCALES: If you’re going to suppress an insurgency, the doctrine says you need to devote about a decade to it for one thing. And you need to establish a sort of military force differential, or a different in the insurgent force and the conventional force of about 10 to 1. In other words, 10 conventional soldiers to one insurgent, in order to sort of overwhelm or smother the insurgency over time.
HUME: Now, what kind of insurgency is meant?
SCALES: Well, that’s an excellent point. But we have got to be careful about use of words here. Words count. This is not a classic insurgency, like Mao Tse-Tung or Che Guevara. This is really more of a Sunni insurrection. I mean the Sunnis don’t have the numbers to either foment a civil war or a classic insurgency. They don’t have the stretch, the geographical stretch.
HUME: You mean across the country.
SCALES: No! I mean they can’t cover the country. The object is not to control the will or influence the will of the Iraqi people. It’s just to kill for the sake of killing to terrorize the Iraqi people. They don’t have the conventional institutions of an insurgency, like a shadow government, an ideology, a charismatic leader. None of those things apply here.
HUME: When classic military doctrine addresses the question of an insurgency, is that a case where you’re trying to suppress in effect? You’re trying to conquer really a people. And the insurgents represent the people as a whole?
SCALES: Well, it’s really not so much the people, as the will of the people. You know, Mao Tse-Tung always talked about an insurgency being fish swimming in a friendly sea. You know, the object is to bring the population over to your side so that you oppose, you know, the army of the government. And that’s not what is happening here.
HUME: So in the end you’re suppressing a popular force when you’re using 10 to 1 advantage. You need 10 to 1 advantage to deal with a popular uprising?
SCALES: Yes. But that’s not what’s happening here. You know, the vast majority of the Iraqi people are neither Sunnis nor Sunni sympathizers. They’re a very small minority. So we have to be care about the terminology we use. We use loose words too much.
HUME: If that being the case however, it’s worth noting that we just had this just weeks ago, this action in Fallujah.
HUME: The dividend of that does not appear to have been, at least from what we can see from at a distance, a lessening of the violence. Is that an illusion?
SCALES: It’s an illusion.
HUME: How so?
SCALES: Well, the U.S. government has got to do three things in the next few months. The first thing they’ve got to do is they’ve got to manage expectations on the road to election. You know, we always say this is gut check time for the Iraqi people? It’s also gut check time for the American people. Because the American people have to understand that this is not just a slow-rolling Tet Offensive, as we work up to the election. We’ve got to be able to make — to prepare the American people for the violence that’s bound to happen.
The second thing we have to do is after the election is to defeat the Sunni insurgency, to keep this conventional war going. And I think by the springtime, the Sunnis are going to wake up to the fact that they can’t win this by violence. And they’re going to have to sort of cut a deal, if you will.
And the third thing, and most importantly, after the springtime, is we’re going to have to transform the American military that’s in Iraq from sort of an intervention operational force, more into an advisory force. In other words, we got to go from creating an Iraqi military for being a secondary mission, into being a primary mission.
And when General Luck comes back from his visit in a couple of weeks and reports to the secretary, I think what he’s going to tell him is start putting the resources away from the operational Army. And let’s build us a sort of military assistance command in Iraq to make this transformation permanent.
HUME: In the meantime, we have 150,000 troops on the ground. It’s estimated that the rebels constitute maybe 20,000. That is about 71/2 to one. And they are not swimming being in a friendly sea nationwide, as you point out.
SCALES: Right. That’s correct.
HUME: Why then has the suppression effort not been more successful?
SCALES: First of all, I think it’s been more successful than the media leads the public to believe. Yes, I think so.
If you look at the number of incidents, if you look at the number of reports that are coming into the U.S. command, if you look at how well the U.S. command has sort of saturated the streets of Baghdad, and some of the other insurgent areas. I think when you peel away the onion, you’re going see that while it’s not successful in the sense that the insurgency is crushed by now. I think they are making significant progress. And after the election, I think the progress is going to be more substantial.
HUME: Now, the training effort that’s been going on, that’s General Petraeus’ territory with General Luck going over there — retired General Luck is going over there to check on. How do you assess that in terms of how well these forces are coming together as a fighting force?
SCALES: It’s all question of resources. If you’re going to transform a host nation military, you got to use the best and the brightest. You have got to use all the resources necessary. We saw the other day when where a U.S. convoy with Iraqis traveling along was ambushed. And the Iraqis were killed because they were in a soft-skinned vehicle, and the American soldiers were in an armored vehicle. An Iraqi has a pistol, he sees an American with an M4 Carbine.
So we’ve got to get to the point the Iraqis’ military is treated militarily just as richly as we treat our own soldiers. Because an Iraqi soldier will say boy, if I had what that American had, I’d be a lot more effective. It’s time it give them the equipment, give them the training and give them the resources in order to be successful.
HUME: So this, in your view, is mission possible?
SCALES: It’s mission possible. But let’s manage expectations. Let’s let the American people understand this is not something that’s going to be decided on a weekend.
HUME: Bob Scales, General Scales, great to have you. Thanks very much.
SCALES: Thanks, Brit.
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