Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 22, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

NOT ENOUGH TROOPS....This won't come as a surprise to anyone, but apparently we don't have enough troops in Iraq:

The possibility that additional troops would be required to battle the insurgency in this critical period preceding the Iraqi elections, scheduled for Jan. 30, has been signaled for weeks. The Pentagon took an initial step in this direction last month, ordering about 6,500 soldiers in Iraq to extend their tours by up to two months.

....The officers said the exact number of extra troops needed is still being reviewed but estimated it at the equivalent of several battalions, or about 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers. The number of U.S. troops in Iraq fell to nearly 100,000 last spring before rising to 138,000, where it has stayed since the summer.

To boost the current level, military commanders have considered extending the stay of more troops due to rotate out shortly, or accelerating the deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division, which is scheduled to start in January. But a third option drawing all or part of a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division on emergency standby in the United States has emerged as increasingly likely.

The only really noteworthy part of this story is that it's just about the first time the military has been willing to publicly admit that it needs more troops in Iraq. However, the story also makes the reason for this painfully obvious: why ask if there aren't any more troops to give?

Last month the Army decided to redeploy its famed OPFOR training regiment to Iraq "eating your seed corn," as Phil Carter called it and now they're talking about drawing on a brigade currently on emergency standby. And of course, this is all in addition to the accelerated rotations, IRR callups, and stop loss orders of the past several months.

All of these things are enormous morale busters that provide only a few thousand additional troops, and it's pretty clear that no one would be resorting to this stuff unless we were in pretty desperate straits. But we are: as with every previous operation that was supposed to turn the tide, it turns out that flattening Fallujah didn't turn the tide after all.

Now, tell me again why Donald Rumsfeld still has a job?

Kevin Drum 12:48 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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