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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a very good analysis of the Iraq war by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling. It analyzes not only Iraq but the similarity to Vietnam. It's a very good article...and one that gives good reflection to war in general. Bottom line--America wasn't prepared to fight this war...they were preparing to fight the last war all over again. His solution involves restructuring the way promotions take place in the military.

It's a long read...but I'd recommend it to everyone interested in military action.

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/05/2635198
 

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Iraq was the wrong war, period. Al-Quida was in Afghanistan with the blessings of a hostile government. The war against Terror is there, not in the middle east.

The Shrub chose to wage war in Iraq. The decisions on the scope of the war came from the White House and other political cronies, not military leaders. The generals were given instructions by their civilian political appointees on how the war was to be fought. My son's battalion was training for deployment to Afghanistan in early 2002 when word came they would be training instead for war in Iraq. If we spent our resources on the War on Terror instead of a trumped up war because of a family feud between the Bushes and Hussein the world would be a better place.

While generalship may be part of the problem, Dubya is the cause. Little thought went into planning for the aftermath. Military depots were left unguarded after the fighting and essential services were not protected or given much thought. The Shrub's ranch should become a National Cemetery so that he can look out his bedroom window and see the price paid for his follyand and the grief he has caused the people of the United States.
 

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I read this article previous and thought it was interesting. Personally I contend that we didn't lose the Iraq War, we lost the occupation and subsequent civil war. Why?

First, because that isn't what we went there for in the first place. The driver for going to Iraq was Weapons of Mass Destruction which proved not to be true (actually now I think it was an excuse to get the public behind and execute a previously planned invasion of Iraq, but that's the subject of another post ;)). I think as a country we are not, for lack of a better word, interested in being in a long term hostile occupation of another country. By hostile, I mean where our soldiers are targets and there is open violence.

Secondly, the post-war planning was so poor and so unrealistic, that it created almost impossible hurdles to get over.
 

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Interesting article. I said since the beginning that going to Iraq was a mistake and why hadn't anyone learned from Vietnam. What's the saying, you are bound to repeat your mistakes unless you learn from them the first time? Totally paraphrasing.

I think the Shrub will go down as one of the worst presidents ever because of all of this.
 

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I wish people would stop calling it a "war". It's not even a "conflict". It's a debacle.

*wonders why I am posting in this thread...*
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Lab Dad said:
Iraq was the wrong war, period. Al-Quida was in Afghanistan with the blessings of a hostile government. The war against Terror is there, not in the middle east.

The Shrub chose to wage war in Iraq. The decisions on the scope of the war came from the White House and other political cronies, not military leaders. The generals were given instructions by their civilian political appointees on how the war was to be fought. My son's battalion was training for deployment to Afghanistan in early 2002 when word came they would be training instead for war in Iraq. If we spent our resources on the War on Terror instead of a trumped up war because of a family feud between the Bushes and Hussein the world would be a better place.

While generalship may be part of the problem, Dubya is the cause. Little thought went into planning for the aftermath. Military depots were left unguarded after the fighting and essential services were not protected or given much thought. The Shrub's ranch should become a National Cemetery so that he can look out his bedroom window and see the price paid for his folly and and the grief he has caused the people of the United States.
Is "The Shrub" the reason we lost Vietnam? In all seriousness, those generals who believed we needed 700,000 plus soldiers to win this war and occupation were silent when the time came to make a decision on how the war and occupation would be prosecuted. Vietnam and Iraq are similar in that we were ready to fight armies...not insurgencies. We had a military plan that we were good at. Problem is this war called for something entirely different. You are right, the civilians ultimately decide the course of action--but they do so at the advice of the generals. Tommy Frank in charge of the operation has gone on record saying we . in the amount of troops we thought we needed to win. Frank was advising Bush, Rumsfeld etc....

Four different presidents....lost two similar wars.

I'd encourage you to read the article because it isn't political at all. The next president most likely will be a democrat..and as a conservative I will be rooting that he/she is very successful. In order to be successful the military must undergo some significant changes. I don't think anyone in favor of this war had any idea what to do once Saddam and his army were overthrown. They badly misjudged the desire of the Iraqi people to fight for their democracy. Democracy obviously isn't every cultures cup of tea. We don't understand their culture at all. Not all humans are the same...nor do they have the same interests and goals. We can whip any country who tries to cause damage to our own nation on our soil. We can't whip cultures on their land who insist on not giving in to our demands. Iraq was the wrong war--I give you that. Bush was badly misinformed. WMD has nothing to do with the success or failure of this operation. If Iraq had WMD that wouldn't mean Iraq would be a peaceful place now. The failure was assuming everyone believes "Freedom is God's gift to mankind"... I believe God has blessed our nation. It is our nation who has accepted the blessing--we can't force others to accept the blessing.
 

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I do not believe we ever really declared war in Vietnam. In Iraq The Shrub did. He was laying the groundwork for it when he declared North Korea, Iraq and Iran an axis of evil. This guy is a loose cannon.

The military learned a lot from the Vietnam experience. Special Forces did a lot in Vietnam and did a fantastic job in Afghanistan. Its the political leaders who did not learn much from World War II, Korea or Vietnam. A lot of planning went into what to do in Japan and germany after the war. Political appointees said we were not all that interested in Korea and later in Kuwait and conflicts resulted. Vietnam was a political quagmire. For a while the White House was planning bombing strikes. The First Gulf War was planned by military people. The second had a bunch of civilians calling the shots which resulted in Desert Storm Light which was the start of the debacle. Plus nobody planned the end game. It is not the military that is losing the war, it is the politicians in the executive branch.
 
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If you say we lost the war, you are calling our military soldiers failures. If you say we lost the war, you are calling our military leadership failures.

The war isnt over. If it was, my husband would be home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
JollyMolly said:
If you say we lost the war, you are calling our military soldiers failures. If you say we lost the war, you are calling our military leadership failures.

The war isnt over. If it was, my husband would be home.
We won the war and lost the occupation. Your husband and the military soldiers did not lose the war. The must follow orders and the plan that is put into place. They did a brilliant job against the army and that was the only real plan the Joint Chiefs had in place. The military leadership has failed to analyze what was/is needed...failed to realize the strength of the insurgency and how to counter it. Your husband is following orders, following a plan. I am calling our military leadership responsible for the mess they are in. The generalships in the military are 100% accountable for the planning and execution of their plan. Their plan was very good in defeating Saddam's army. Their plan was terrible in keeping out foreign fighters from Syria and Iran. When the military launched an invasion into Iraq....seeing border countries of Syria and Iran--both of which are enemies of the USA they should have had a plan to secure the border immediately on invasion. That was a failure.

A LT. Col in the military is calling the Iraq war a failure. I do believe it has been a failure as it involves more than just defeating Saddam's army. The Kuwait situation involved removing the army out of Kuwait....a war we were fully capable and able to do. This war was different--it involved occupying the country until they could establish their own government. We failed to realize the culture of Iraq and the middle east. They seek conflict not peace...and conflict we have...ongoing and unstoppable conflict.

Be careful when you relate the success or failure of the war with the military men and woman who are following the orders and plan. When soldiers returned home from Vietnam they were spit upon, cursed, mocked, insulted etc....because the politics of the war got out of hand...AND the generalships during Vietnam FAILED. Our soldiers deserve to win...our soldiers deserve a winning plan...a winning mission...a winning objective....the generalships have given our soldiers a good plan to overthrow Saddam....but were not given a plan to secure peace....to occupy and bring stability to a very unstable region.....our soldiers mission was not clearly lined out. The objective was one of hope...not objective and realistic measures.

Our soldiers are not the failures....the plan, the objective and the mission of the generalships are the reason.

Again....before you assume what the article states...please read it.....I really don't see how anyone can argue with it.
 

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Dad of Toby said:
Our soldiers are not the failures....the plan, the objective and the mission of the generalships are the reason.
I agree with this. I support our soldiers, always have. Its not their fault that those in charge (whether its the generals or the president) didn't have a clue as to what they were doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I also believe America has lost patience in all aspects of our lives. We understand the "war on terror" is a long one (probably endless at that)...but in reality we don't have patience for it.

The war in Iraq has now lasted longer than WWII....we were able to have our pacific fleet severely damaged at Pearl Harbor.....We were able to overthrow not only the Japanese Empire...but also Hitler's Nazi Germany in less than 4 years. We fought like our national security was at stake...and it was.... In Iraq-we didn't fight like our national security was at stake. If you go to war...you go in with overwhelming force to accomplish the mission. We didn't do this in Iraq. America doesn't have the patience to see little to no progress in over 4 years in a war against a culture that doesn't have any evidence they seek a peaceful democracy. America has lost the patience....we are "so over" Iraq and to be honest "the war on terror". We want to turn on the news and see the lead story be the death of Anna Nichole.....or the controversy of Don Imus....or Sheryl Crow and her one piece of toilet paper per butt wiping. We want to hear news about our own people. We are tired of hearing about car bombings...suicide bombings....etc....

We have lost our stomach for war. We want our troops home and don't really care what happens to Iraq. I know I'm making wild assumptions here...but it's how I see America's mood. I think most people think Iraq is not winnable because it's a culture that thrives on conflict--sees peace as a weakness...and power will yield to even more power...and never in a peaceful election.

If we leave Iraq it will be a HUGE humiliating defeat for our country. And yet the politics of it have us leaving Iraq before any reasonable degree of success shows it's face in Iraq. So we have to prepare for what happens when we leave Iraq. Iraq will be unstable. Iran most likely will set up at minimum an alliance with the Shiites and therefore the country....and at worst Iraq will be entirely governed by Iran. I don't believe those insurgents will be attacking the US on US soil....but just like 9/11 and ever since....anyone interested in hitting America will continue to try. Our efforts must be heavy in intelligence--heavy in cutting off the financial resources of terror cells and its members and fighting hard to keep America as safe as it can be. I think we need to start pulling out our interests in foreign countries. Alliances are fine...but being overly involved in the business of others needs to stop. We need to spend the money we've been spending in other places and make America as safe as possible --as if our national security and national freedom depends on it....and leave the Iraqs of the world to those beasts who choose to thrive there.
 

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I agree also. Our soldiers are not failures, not at all. They performed brilliantly at their mission and the tasks that they were trained to do. It's just that now, they are not doing their true mission. Nation-building especially from the ground up is not a duty of our Armed Forces. Especially in a divided nation like Iraq.
 

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JollyMolly said:
If you say we lost the war, you are calling our military soldiers failures. If you say we lost the war, you are calling our military leadership failures.

The war isnt over. If it was, my husband would be home.
The US military is under civilian command. Vietnam was lost because the civilian government decided that it could no longer accept the sociopolitical consequences of the war. Iraq could suffer a similar fate. The soldiers won the war in Iraq in 22 days. Their mission was then changed to nation building....and that is exponentially more difficult than destroying an enemy army on the field of battle. That is why we have been in Iraq longer than we were in the second world war. They were given a disaster of a "plan" by the civilian government in the white house and the defense department and Bush himself admits that a "change in strategy" was only granted when his party was thrown out of Congress. I don't think anyone is blaming the soldiers for what their civilian leaders have been bungling since day 23 of the war when Baghdad fell.

The US and other countries with republican forms of government often do not allow the military the autonomy to command itself due to the political influence it could wield. I'd say its 99% a good idea, and 1% a bad idea because it allows for public opinion to creep into national security from time to time.
 
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I'll take a swing at this. While I think the article offers some interesting ideas, I disagree with most of it. Why?

1. I agree with Laurie - we have not lost the war in Iraq - we are still very much engaged. In actuality, we won the initial conflict handily. We are now fighting an insurgency and a very complicated one at that involving factions from within Iraq and terrorists from without. It is a fight we very much need to win and we owe it to our forces engaged to recognize that they deserve the support and total commitment of the necessary resources to allow them to be successful.

2. The conduct of warfare by the US has become increasingly politically driven - and media influenced - beginning with the Korean Conflict. From that conflict on, the military leadership has had to think more and more about "how will this look on CNN" than "what are the most effective ways to fight the enemy at hand." Everything from troop strengths, to equipment, to awards and promotions is played out both within the administration and the Congress. Politicians make "point" for their parties and themselves personally by beating the drum endlessly over the conduct of the war and everything else. And every time they do it strengthens our enemies who recognize that we have lost the collective backbone to fight.

3. The military does know how to fight insurgencies - you can look at any number of them that have been fought successfully (I think the number is somewhere around 30 successfull in recorded military history). All of the Services spent considerable looking at themselves as institutions after Vietnam and all made sweeping changes in how they trained and fought. All were in the process of beginning to transform themselves into forces relevant for the future of what warfare was anticipated to be - lighter, more mobile and able to be tailored to meet contingency requirements. All that takes a tremendous amount of time - and dollars. The Services fought hard for sufficient budgetary increases during the Clinton administration - and met with minimal success. Again, the political backbone was not there - in any party - to face the American public and tell them that it was crucial to increase the percentage of our annual budget allocated to DoD to allow them to transform. After 9/11, it became extremely difficult to transform while engaged in a battle - although that continues to happen.

4. The American public doesn't have to moral courage to fight the war that has to be fought. Back to my comments about insurgencies. Remember the Revolutionary War from your history books. Remember what the Brits said about the colonial forces? They didn't fight fair. They didn't follow the "rules of warfare" as the existed at that time. We hid behind trees, ambushed British convoys, attacked their logistical trains and, OH MY GOD, we fought at night!! Since the "civilized" nations began to again try to make warfare fair - and less brutal - we've increasingly tied the hands of militarys to fight insurgencies. Why? Because the only truly successful way to fight them is to ruthlessly hunt the insurgents down and kill them. No amount of discussion or aid will get to the "hearts and minds" of insurgents. The only thing that gets to their minds is a bullet. It's hard, dirty, ugly and ruthless. But when you can't even use music as a means of breaking down a prisoner's will to resist, you are lost. Our enemies know we are much to worried about being perceived as fair and good to fight as they know we must to beat them.

Am I arguing that we need to totally abrogate the terms of the Geneva Conventions - no. We do need to adhere to the spirit of what it means. But when you are fighting a non-state sponsored terrorist force, well, they don't fall under the coverage of the convention. And we need to remember that they have no intention of ever following it no matter how nicely we treat them when we capture them.

5. The military works under civilian authority under the President as the Commander in Chief through the SECDEF. We take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to obey the orders of those appointed over us. That General officers weren't out screaming in the press about concerns wasn't a failure - it was an application of the code of law that governs how officers can legally voice dissent. While they can provide input prior to a decision being made, once it is made you are required to execute the orders of those appointed over you. Only if those orders are immoral or illegal can you legally step outside of the chain of command to protest - and in those cases you are expected to do so and can be punished if you do in fact follow an order you know to be illegal.

In the prep for the invasion of Iraq, it was the SECDEF and his staff who made the decisions and they ignored the recommendations of many officers, not just general officers, in structuring the force. GEN Shinseki, the former Chief of Staff, ultimately lost his job over his comments but there are others who opted to retire because they were dissatisfied with the conduct of the war - names like Batiste, Swannack, Eaton and others stand out.

But, do you really want to establish a military where the leadership readily voices disagreement with a decision or plan? You would cause chaos within the ranks...yet, I am concerned that this is the direction our civilian leadership is pushing us.

6. Planning for war is the responsibility of DoD. Follow on rebuilding and Reconstruction is not a DoD function. That we had insufficient planning for postwar operations was not a failure of the generals. They don't do that...and are not trained to do that. The lack of planning in that regard is a failure of the administration to adequately establish a clear path for rebuilding. And it is one of the reasons we find ourselves where we are today.

7. The last thing we need is to have Congress involved even more in training military officers. After the debacle of Grenada, Congress stepped in and mandated some very good changes in the education of officers to ensure they could operate within the joint and inter-agency environment. Over time, though, those rules have tightened more and more so that we spend a substantial amount of time in training about what the other Services do at the expense of training in what our own Services do. While it is a necessary component of officer education, it has gone to the extreme in the assignment process. Before and officer can become a "flag" level officer - a General or Admiral - he/she must serve at least 3 years in a Joint assignment. As a result, we now have positions that have been diluted so that these officers can get the time they need under their belt - at the expense of assigning the specialists needed for the actual job. This is an exceptionally difficult concept to describe here - where you don't have a specific knowledge of the assignment process - but it has had an impact on our ability to have the right people to do all the jobs we need to do in a changed threat environment as we now face.

8. I am also no fan of the 360 degree process for leader evaluation in the military. We've tried a number of civilian concepts in the military for leadership...and they typically don't work. Just my own bias here but you'll never sell me on this concept.

So, that's just a few of my own opinions. Finally, just because the article was written by a LTC doesn't make it true. I can't read too much into the officer's career from the short bio at the end but have a few ideas. I won't offer opinions - but I won't blindly buy that what he writes is totally unbiased either. I spent too much time within the Army - and in Army Strategy, Plans and Policy during the run up to Iraq - to not take issue with what he writes.

Just my own $.02
 

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Mark, you're the far and away expert on these things here in JL land.

What do you think went wrong? Did they underestimate the potential for sectarian violence or the potential for foreign fighters and foreign governments with their own agenda to interfere? Is it just a question of too few troops on our end or something deeper in that society that you can't fix with a foreign army?

The politicians are wedded to the blame game..not the "what really happened here" game.

I'm not exactly qualified to really agree or disagree with the rest, but this, however...

4. The American public doesn't have to moral courage to fight the war that has to be fought. Back to my comments about insurgencies. Remember the Revolutionary War from your history books. Remember what the Brits said about the colonial forces? They didn't fight fair. They didn't follow the "rules of warfare" as the existed at that time. We hid behind trees, ambushed British convoys, attacked their logistical trains and, OH MY GOD, we fought at night!! Since the "civilized" nations began to again try to make warfare fair - and less brutal - we've increasingly tied the hands of militarys to fight insurgencies. Why? Because the only truly successful way to fight them is to ruthlessly hunt the insurgents down and kill them. No amount of discussion or aid will get to the "hearts and minds" of insurgents. The only thing that gets to their minds is a bullet. It's hard, dirty, ugly and ruthless. But when you can't even use music as a means of breaking down a prisoner's will to resist, you are lost. Our enemies know we are much to worried about being perceived as fair and good to fight as they know we must to beat them.
Could we be asking too much of the public here? When this war was about WMD it was easy. Saddam was a proven enemy and that's not someone you want with an arsenal of chemical weapons, etc. Once the intelligence failure became apparent, it was about the rape rooms, and this, and that, and whatever we're on today. I think "stability" is the stated goal and the shining beacon of liberal democracy in the middle east was taken out back and shot.

How do we ask the public to support an indefinite foreign occupation where the "what do we get out of this" factor can not be guaranteed and probably not even seen for many years to come? I think the American public can stomach blood and treasure when you have a do-or-die situation as we were faced with in WWII. There's no do-or-die in Iraq now and the public will not accept democratic peace theory, nation building, etc. when the violence is in our faces day in, and day out. It's not a question of moral courage...rather a question of long term risk vs reward in a society that is increasingly driven towards instant gratification.

I also have to question the value of such hardline tactics. I am not against them in principle...but we are nation building here. Everything we do affects how the Iraqi people perceive us and accept our presence there. Look at Abu Ghraib...certainly not Dr. Mengele's little house of torture yet was an absolute PR disaster for us among the Iraqi people. Is that really the way to victory in this particular conflict?

Did the public fully understand domino theory during Vietnam? I think we're expecting the American people to take a rather large leap of faith on this and there really hasn't even been an effort to explain these long term goals. Like I said, he went straight to rape rooms and other things that are not relevant to US national security. I know all about the long term implications for the region and what happens if we leave another Somalia there...but I had to hear about this in a college classroom or in these journals and other things that John Q. Public doesn't commonly access.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
2LabsInNEPA said:
6. Planning for war is the responsibility of DoD. Follow on rebuilding and Reconstruction is not a DoD function. That we had insufficient planning for postwar operations was not a failure of the generals. They don't do that...and are not trained to do that. The lack of planning in that regard is a failure of the administration to adequately establish a clear path for rebuilding. And it is one of the reasons we find ourselves where we are today.
The reason the State Department can't rebuild Iraq is because the military simply has not stabilized Iraq. They may have defeated the army in 22 days but the military has not secured the peace. We've had more years than it took the US to conquer the Japanese Empire and Hitler's Germany. We can't defeat the insurgency in Iraq. Why? Because we are terrible at it. We are trained to defeat armies of tanks, firepower, planes and naval carrier groups. We aren't trained in defeating insurgency. We may have defeated some in the past..but we were ill prepared for this one. The military planners should have insisted the borders of Syria and Iran be secured BEFORE we head to Baghdad. At that point we should have launched the Baghdad invasion. In this day of age the generals MUST be involved in the postwar operation plans. They may not be trained in that aspect...but we should be training them for the next war...not the last war. We don't want our military to be nation builders...but you don't devastate a country with firepower...only to have no plan on rebuilding afterward.....the phrase "you break it, you own it" applies here. The military generals should have told Bush, "We will be able to defeat the army and overthrow Saddam relatively shortly--but it will still be a dangerous place and we have no idea how to rebuild the nation safely. Because it will be a very unsafe place after we overthrow the army...we simply can't defend the nation from terror or insurgents....it's not our job."

Bush needed to hear this THEN not now....and I have serious doubts anyone in the military was this forthright with him. You can tell by the way the war was prosecuted the military underestimated the middle east climate. They did NOTHING to secure the borders with Syria and Iran....this is where most of the insurgents came from.

You say the war isn't over yet the writing is on the wall. The Democrats have cashed in on a political cow by overtaking both houses of congress on this issue. The next president WILL bring the troops home before we secure victory. We can't even define what victory is. We were ill prepared for this. This was a war our military had no idea how to execute it...and how to establish peace. These people don't want peace...they want conflict. Our boys and girls are fighting a hopeless mission. They should never have been asked to force democracy down the throats of so many people who don't want a thing to do with it...or aren't willing to stand up and take it and secure themselves.

To make a decision and totally disregard the culture of the people you are about to overthrow is a huge error. We thought we'd be welcomed as liberators...there may be some who felt that way...but not enough to stand up and take control of their land once liberated. Now we are seen as an occupier with self serving motives instead of liberators. We liberated them from Saddam only to have them controlled by multiple street thugs.....I am not sure they see that as an improvement.

I'm not blaming only Bush for this. I think the article was spot on. We have lost this war because we haven't secured the peace and the American people have lost the passion for success there. War is political. The politics have turned against the war. It will be a matter of months before the overwhelming consensus says to bring home the troops. Once the public supports withholding funding for it...it's over. So we must turn our attention to how best manage the aftermath.
 

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kaisdad said:
We've had more years than it took the US to conquer the Japanese Empire and Hitler's Germany.
You did that all on your own, did you?
It's an alternate reality ;)

As is this... (I didn't realize that God blessed some nations and not others.)

Dad of Toby said:
I believe God has blessed our nation. It is our nation who has accepted the blessing--we can't force others to accept the blessing.
 
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