Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 21, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TROOPS....A few days ago Max Boot asked George Bush about a recently leaked report suggesting we needed several more combat brigades in Anbar province alone if we want to maintain security in Iraq:

He dismissed it as just a "data point." He won't send more troops to Iraq unless asked to do so by Gen. George W. Casey, the U.S. commander on the spot, and Casey has not made any such request. "I'm certainly not a military expert, nor am I in Baghdad," he said, so he will leave those decisions to the "experts."

Well, the experts are apparently talking among themselves, and the experts are worried:

According to Pentagon officials, senior officers in the Army and Marine Corps in recent weeks have begun warning that without a reduction in Iraq, the present schedule of combat tours would be difficult to sustain without an increase in the number of forces.

....One senior Pentagon official involved in long-term planning said the concerns had reached such a level that top Army leaders broached the issue of changing deployment rules to allow for more frequent call-ups of National Guard and Reserve units to relieve pressure on the active duty Army.

...."If we're going to have an active duty force that's only going to be so big, you have to have access to the Reserve," the senior official said. "If you want to stay in this and never have to accelerate [Guard deployment], you'd better grow the [active] force."

Casey's not asking for more troops because he knows perfectly well that he can only barely maintain the force he's got and neither Bush nor the Republican Congress are interested in increasing the Army's end strength or in changing rules to allow more intensive use of Guard and Reserve units.

In other words, they don't want to withdraw, but they don't want to send enough troops to have any chance of succeeding either. Both options are too politically risky. Instead, they will continue following the one path guaranteed to fail. Apparently that's what passes for leadership these days.

Kevin Drum 11:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (79)

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Comments

Has increasing the number of troops eliminated the violence in Baghdad?

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060921/NEWS07/609210348/1009

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5326790.stm

Looks like it hasn't.

Posted by: father figure on September 21, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

I believe this sums it up well Kevin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96nmMIIfGXI&eurl=

Posted by: Dreggas on September 21, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Oh you mean the level we had in gulf war I and the level that the original generals and planners requested?

Posted by: Dreggas on September 21, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

...Frist?

Remind me again why *Democrats* are routinely accused of politicizing the war in Iraq? Sheesh.

The strategy here is pretty obvious: Don't do anything different until after November 7th. A) No changes to the commitments and sacrifices required of America to effectively conduct a successful counterinsurgency, and B) relentless spinning and massaging of the news coming out of Iraq to prevent the voting public from seeing the inevitable results of (A).

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on September 21, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Two words: clone army.

Posted by: Stefan on September 21, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Casey's not asking for more troops because he knows perfectly well that he can only barely maintain the force he's got and neither Bush nor the Republican Congress are interested in increasing the Army's end strength or in changing rules to allow more intensive use of Guard and Reserve units.

Hah? What makes you say that about Bush and the Republicans? Bush himself said he is willing to send troops if asked but he hasn't been asked yet.

Link

"He won't send more troops to Iraq unless asked to do so by Gen. George W. Casey, the U.S. commander on the spot, and Casey has not made any such request. "I'm certainly not a military expert, nor am I in Baghdad," he said, so he will leave those decisions to the "experts.""

Why don't you take the word of the Commander-in-Chief rather than insunuiate he is lying? You're libeling George W Bush.

Posted by: Al on September 21, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

How about increasing the troop level to 500,000 and see if that works?

Hmmm, seems like someone suggested that already and was shot down:

Pentagon Contradicts General on Iraq Occupation Force's Size
By Eric Schmitt
New York Times
February 28, 2003

In a contentious exchange over the costs of war with Iraq, the Pentagon's second-ranking official today disparaged a top Army general's assessment of the number of troops needed to secure postwar Iraq...

Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark." Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops...

At a Pentagon news conference with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Mr. Rumsfeld echoed his deputy's comments. Neither Mr. Rumsfeld nor Mr. Wolfowitz mentioned General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, by name. But both men were clearly irritated at the general's suggestion that a postwar Iraq might require many more forces than the 100,000 American troops and the tens of thousands of allied forces that are also expected to join a reconstruction effort.

"The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark," Mr. Rumsfeld said. General Shinseki gave his estimate in response to a question at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday: "I would say that what's been mobilized to this point something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required." He also said that the regional commander, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, would determine the precise figure.

A spokesman for General Shinseki, Col. Joe Curtin, said today that the general stood by his estimate. "He was asked a question and he responded with his best military judgment," Colonel Curtin said. General Shinseki is a former commander of the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.

In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq. He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo. He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force that "stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as possible," but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it. "I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.


Posted by: Stefan on September 21, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

heres the winning campaign position then. Grow the force - by encouraging volunteers, not a draft. We had more divisions during the cold war than we do now - and there was no draft Why?

Incentives. More pay. Benefits. Funding for teh VA - including mental health. A new GI Bill, plus more.

Raise standards. Recruit professionals, people with graduate degrees as well so its not just the tooth, but also the tail.

Make a career in teh army supremeley attractive, and also heavily emphasisze MP type training even for non-MPs, because counterinsurgency is going to be a BIG part of any future Army deployment.

And, reduce the commitment. Make it so you can sign on for a two year tour. Keep teh army voluntary,but make it great - and easy to "try out". We will retain alot more and we will grow the force to where it needs to be.

I'll cross post this comment to Nation Building blog...

Posted by: Aziz on September 21, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Why don't you take the word of the Commander-in-Chief ....
Posted by: Al

Because he's a liar?

Posted by: Ace Franze on September 21, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Considering that shrub is more interested in cutting taxes I somehow doubt he will agree to raise military pay.

I have to agree with Thomas on this one though, if the pay in the military were to match or at least come close to pay in the private sector a LOT more people would sign up.

There are some perks to service such as housing (but even there there is a shortage) and of course the idea of 3 squares a day but that's not what most who could enlist think about.

I remember the Drill Sergeants telling us toward the end of our BCT how to make extra cash outside of the military since military pay was the suck.

Posted by: Dreggas on September 21, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Al, when will you be joining up for this important duty? You know we need to fight them there before they attack us here. Chickenshit.

Posted by: Mark on September 21, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

We are playing wack a mole all over iraq. Right now Anbar is a province we have neglected so we can wack people in Bagdad. If we pay attention to Anbar we have to move troops in from some place else.

We haven't got enough troops to pacify Iraq.

We are talking about a war with Iran. Iran is far larger than Iraq. How the hell are we ever going to have enough troops to handle the insurgency there. Don't give me flowers and ticker tape parades.

Would there be flowers and ticker tape parades if China invaded the US? NO. Well what leads anybody to think the Iranians are any less patriotic than Americans.

There is a data point nobody in the Administration has ever considered.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 21, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone else think Al doesn't really exist? That he's just a Kevin troll here for our amusement?

Posted by: cazart on September 21, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

heres the winning campaign position then. Grow the force - by encouraging volunteers, not a draft. We had more divisions during the cold war than we do now - and there was no draft Why?

Actually, for most of the Cold War, during the 1950 and 1960s, there was a draft. It was only in the 70s and 80s that there wasn't one -- and that was partly because those who signed up didn't expect to be in a shooting war.

These days, everyone who signs up for the Army or Marines is pretty much guaranteed to know he'll wind up being shot at in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, which is a pretty powerful disincentive to enlist.

Posted by: Stefan on September 21, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

If Gen. Casey asks for 500,000 troops, he will get them.

prove it

Posted by: cleek on September 21, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

How many volunteers do you think we could get if we doubled combat pay?

Democrats could propose to double combat pay, I suppose, but Republicans would just cut it to pay for tax cuts for the rich. As Josh Marshall reminds us:

"If you watched this debate at the time you'll remember that last summer (2003) the Bush administration went to great lengths to cut combat pay for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to save money for other priorities. They only relented when Democrats, Republicans and most of all military-oriented publications like Army Times expressed so much outrage that they had no choice but abandon the effort."

"Here's a snippet from an article which appeared on August 15th, 2003 in the San Francisco Chronicle which gives a brief glimpse of their ignominious retreat ..."

The White House quickly backpedaled Thursday on Pentagon plans to cut the combat pay of the 157,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan after disclosure of the idea quickly became a political embarrassment.

The Pentagon's support for the idea of rolling back "imminent danger pay" by $75 a month and "family separation allowances" for the American forces by $150 a month collapsed after a story in The Chronicle Thursday generated intense criticism from military families, veterans groups and Democratic candidates seeking to unseat President Bush in 2004.

Posted by: Stefan on September 21, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas 1

I was thinking you, as a good Republican, would greet the Chinese with flowers. After all your corporate friends have already been actively engaged in giving them all our money and jobs.

Anyway, to a Republican party trumps everything. As long as the Chinese puppet government was called the Republican government you would be happy.

Real Americans of all stripes would fight such an invasion to the death. Just because you Republicans wouldn't fight for America, what makes you think the Iranians wouldn't fight.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 21, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

If we doubled combat pay tomorrow,

Who is this "we", BushLicker? "We" are already paying for this crap. How about some contributions from "them" (you know, the ones with the huge tax cuts and the war profits)?

And Kevin: This but they don't want to send enough troops to have any chance of succeeding either. is a canard. There is no number of troops that would "win" this thing. It can't be done.

The best we can do is declare Iraq to be the 51st state and come home.

Posted by: craigie on September 21, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Statement by Gen. Richard Zilmer

Posted by: enrique_m on September 21, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

And, reduce the commitment. Make it so you can sign on for a two year tour.

So just by the time you have them trained you lose them? It takes years to make a good soldier, and someone who's in for that short a time will never acquire the skills to be more than cannon fodder.

Posted by: Stefan on September 21, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

I also doesn't help when the economic policies pursued by the Republican President and Congress for the past six years have consistently screwed the people on the lower rungs of society--the very people who make up the bulk of the enlisted armed forces. When you're a young man or woman in poverty, or one paycheck away from it, and you look around and see underfunded schools, a local economy build on fast food and check cashing, and thousands abandoned during a devastating natural disaster, and your ostensible President is calling on you to fight a war to enrich his cronies... well, I wouldn't be sprinting into any recruiting offices anytime soon.

Contrast that to the way young men swarmed into recruiting offices after Pearl Harbor, young men that a few years earlier were on the verge of despair, for whome the word "patriotism" was an empty joke intoned by the criminal elite of the Gilded Age. Why did their view of their country make a U-turn? Because of the power of the New Deal. Because of a Democrat.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on September 21, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what happens when you suggest more troops are needed in Iraq:

Shinseki, when he reluctantly answered a senator who demanded his opinion on how many troops it would take to occupy Iraq. This was in late February 2003.

Shinseki answered that, based on his experience as the first commander in Bosnia, that it might take ''several hundred thousand soldiers'' to occupy Iraq with its 25 million people.

Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, publicly rebuked Shinseki, saying his estimate was ''wildly off the mark.'' They also made him a lame duck by leaking the name of his proposed successor more than a year before he was to retire.

When Army Secretary Tom White spoke up on behalf of Shinseki he was fired.

Ask Army Lt. Gen. John Riggs. In September 2004 while Rumsfeld and Army chief Gen. Peter Schoomaker were doing their best to keep Congress from adding more troops to the Army, Riggs was quoted in a newspaper article (Baltimore Sun, Sept. 13, 2004) that even 10,000 more soldiers would not be enough.

''You probably are looking at substantially more than 10,000,'' Riggs told the paper. ``I have been in the Army 39 years and I've never seen the Army as stretched in that 39 years as I have today.''

Riggs had already requested retirement. It usually takes 60 days for the paperwork to get done. Two days before that period ended Riggs was told that he was being demoted to two-star rank and would retire at that rank and pay. Riggs has appealed.

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0724-28.htm

Posted by: Windhorse on September 21, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ah Stefan, there you go again, using facts to refute the solid gut feelings of BushCo supporters. That will never do.

Posted by: craigie on September 21, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie, as that great logician Homer Simpons once observed, "Facts are meaningless; you can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true! Facts, schmacts."

Posted by: Stefan on September 21, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Does George Bush know what a data point is?

Posted by: Kiril on September 21, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Contrary to Kevin's post, there's been substantial increase in the number of troops on our side. Last night on Jim Lehrer's news show, General Abizaid said we need more IRAQI troops. We are getting them.

The Brookings Institution report shows 298,000 Iraqi security forces as of August, 2006, an increase of 115,000 from August, 2005. AFAIK the Iraqi troops continue to improve in ability, although they are not a match for US troops.

In the long run, the Iraqi troops ought to be more effective than ours because they know the country, speak the language, etc.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 21, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

The poster who uses the name "rmck1" has been caught using the name "Shinobi" as a SockPuppet in a discussion thread.

rmck1 is a SockPuppet!

rmck1 ADMITS it!

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

"If Gen. Casey asks for 500,000 troops, he will get them."

"More troops? You want me to send you more troops? Where do you expect me to get them? Do you expect me to make them?"--Napoleon to Marshal Ney, at Waterloo

Posted by: rea on September 21, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

the Iraqi troops ought to be more effective than ours because they know the country, speak the language

yes, they will be very effective fighting for their own ethnic and religious teams.

Posted by: cleek on September 21, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

In the long run, the Iraqi troops ought to be more effective than ours because they know the country, speak the language, etc

Plus, they know where the WMD are hidden!

Oh, wait...

Posted by: craigie on September 21, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the plan:

We offer huge financial incentives to unmarried, pregnant women to carry their babies to term, then turn them over to the military.

We'll raise them in government orphanages to be good, loyal citizens and expert soldiers. When they reach the age of 17, we ship 'em off to someplace where democracy is being born so they can advance the cause of freedom.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 21, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

If Gen. Casey asks for 500,000 troops, he will get them.
You forgot Catch 22: the request would have to be made through channels, and anyone attempting to make such a request would be fired.


Posted by: chasmrich on September 21, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

In the long run, the Iraqi troops ought to be more effective

I don't see you could possibly arrive at that conclusion, especially considering that in the short run as massive amount of Iraqi troops have been trained and put in the field the violence has skyrocketed. Daily attacks and Iraqi casualties are at an all time high.

Having more Iraqi troops has not stemmed the violence one bit.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 21, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"The Stubbornly Hopeful President" the column is called. "Stubbornly Oblivious to Reality" is more like it.

Army Group Steiner is counterattacking any moment now, Mein Fuhrer!

Posted by: Red on September 21, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-liberal, the Iraqi army is still driving pickup trucks and SUVs and fighting with small arms. They have no logistics and support, no real command-and-control, no heavy weaponary or combat aircraft. Even the ARVN was better equipped than this.

Nearly all of those troops are only loyal to their local (Kurdish, Shiite, Sunni) leaders, not to the central government. WAKE UP.

Posted by: Red on September 21, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me? "--in changing rules to allow more intensive use of Guard and Reserve units."

The Bush administration has already change the rules several times - thus the label of back door draft and the fact that once soldiers inlist they aren't able to end the tour of duty as promised but have to stay on and on and on, till the home in body bag.

What I don't see is how this commission, lead by James Baker, can't possibly afford to wait 3 more months to make recommendations. Iraq is really going South right now.

And so too, I can see why old Broder is so upset over at the Washington Post - and makes this statement:

American politics reached a critical turn last week. But I think it didn't, it remains to be seen if the GOP will really deny Bush anything, if indeed they ultimately settled by compromise on what will simply changing of fancy wording rather then the changing of actually Bush policy. Words that sound more palatable to the general public but still give Bush the right torture and deny human rights.

This is why Broder is making broad generalizations about those vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers on the left" that surely never existed. Poor old partisan Broder is scared to death that Nancy Pelosi might end up taking over the duties of President - should Bush and Cheney be ask to resign, because certainly nobody in the US would think Dennis Hastert would any kind of a real change.

Its not to hard to see this being the end result, since we keep getting one story right after another of US corruption in Iraq from this administrations and all it's mis-use of taxpayer money. Broder is hoping Republicans will rush in and clean up the mess before the midterm elections. But this worthless commssion of Baker's shows that nothing is every going to change without changing the party control in Washington first.


Posted by: Cheryl on September 21, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

One of the most insightful things ever written about Vietnam was Daniel Ellsberg's attack on David Halberstam: "The Quagmire Myth and the Stalemate Machine." (Somebody might look to see if it's online somewheres.)

Basically, Ellsberg pointed out the idea that we didn't know what we were getting into in Vietnam was wrong. The mythic idea is the quagmire, "waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on", but it's not accurate.

At every key decision point, there was a kind of continuum presented to the President (first Ike, then Kennedy, then LBJ). At one end of the scale, you simply quit and left. At the other end, you nuked 'em, or some WW2 style total war.

Somewhere closer to the nuke 'em end of the scale was a line below which the US could not reasonably expect victory; the minimum effort necessary to have a chance at success.

Somewhere closer to the 'simply quit' end was the line above which the US could reasonably expect only NOT to lose... before the next election.

That was the metric for what Ellsberg called "the stalemate machine". Every time, the US chose only to commit enough not to lose before the next election; and never enough to have a reasonable chance at success.

Trouble is, as we committed more blood and treasure and our presence altered the war, the lines moved: it took more not to lose, and it would take FAR more to win, each time.

That's the proper Vietnam analogy -- and it's a question, not a description.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 21, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

double combat pay?.....

lol

this is the same pentagon that proposed cutting combat pay in august 2003...

Troops in Iraq face pay cut
Pentagon says tough duty bonuses are budget-buster
Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Thursday, August 14, 2003

and last year

"The Army spent approximately $426 million on reenlistment bonuses in fiscal year 2005 or almost 8 times more than its budgeted amount to meet its retention goals." - gao.gov

Posted by: mr. irony on September 21, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

You don't need to go all sci-fi, Stefan. If we doubled combat pay tomorrow, there will no problem getting a couple hundred thousand more recruits in by the end of the year and re-uping the rest.
Posted by: Thomas1 on September 21, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

That's a great fucking idea, Thomas1!

Why don't you phone Bush and tell him to stop cutting combat pay and vets benefits?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 21, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

If we doubled combat pay tomorrow

typical "conservative" - always ready to throw money at the problem.

Posted by: cleek on September 21, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Instead, they will continue following the one path guaranteed to fail.

I can think of other paths that are guaranteed to fail: Murtha's plan, for example.

and the experts are worried:

It's their job to worry. The job of deciding is given to others.

Posted by: republicrat on September 21, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

father figure: Has increasing the number of troops eliminated the violence in Baghdad?

Eliminated? No.

Reduced? Yes.

Posted by: republicrat on September 21, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

I love how Bush hides behind the generals. Blames them for everything.

Posted by: pachipuro on September 21, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1 writes:

You don't need to go all sci-fi, Stefan. If we doubled combat pay tomorrow, there will no problem getting a couple hundred thousand more recruits in by the end of the year and re-uping the rest.

Wow, compare that to the average Iraqi resistance fighter, who is paid very little and has no problem exchanging his life for an American one when the leadership gives the order.

Hmmm - which fighter is more committed? Which fighter has a greater stake in the fight. The answer is not hard to see.

Posted by: Chuck on September 21, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Republicrate writes:

father figure: Has increasing the number of troops eliminated the violence in Baghdad?

Eliminated? No.

Reduced? Yes.

To which I can only add:

Evidence? No.

Posted by: Chuck on September 21, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Reserve members are also eligible for Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay as well. That has NEVER been "cut".

Posted by: Thomas1

Quit with the semantics T1. You know less about this subject than my little sister.

If a proposal to cut combat pay was scuttled before it was enacted, then does anyone hear the tree falling?

The truth of the matter is that the WH proposed cutting combat pay and was prevented from enacting said policy change.

As to whether doubling combat pay would net 500,000 troops, that's a fantasy. To illustrate my point, why aren't you, who so ardently supports this war, fighting over there in Iraq? Cause, like Cheney in Vietnam, you've got "better things to do?" We'll so do other people. The reason the Army is having shortfalls is because prospective recruits don't want to die in this war. You might get a few more people to join up, but not the 500,000 you keep fantasizing about.

Posted by: cyntax on September 21, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Well T1, for someone that old, you haven't gained a lot of wisdom. Very few people will risk their lives for something they don't believe in. That is the fundamental problem with this war. It was sold by by the president as his cronies as part of the war on terror when it's not.

The shortfalls in recruiting are simply the pigeons of the president's cognitive dissonance coming home to roost.

Posted by: cyntax on September 21, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

And at the rate we're going you still may get your chance to serve: the enlistment age is already up to 42. Who knows where it will be after 6 months of "adapting to win."

Posted by: cyntax on September 21, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Torture may be worse in Iraq now than under Saddam:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060921/ap_on_re_mi_ea/un_iraq_torture

Posted by: Speed on September 21, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

For starters, I am 67 years old, you whipper-snapper.

Well, of course, that's a lie. The bedbug who's now posting at "Thomas1" has also, under other nom de loons, claimed to be a Gulf War combat vet (as "Doug M.") and a late 1980s Annapolis graduate and naval commander (as "Paul"). Seems any of those personas would be more than eligible to serve in Iraq.

Posted by: Stefan on September 21, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

If we doubled combat pay tomorrow, there will no problem getting a couple hundred thousand more recruits in by the end of the year and re-uping the rest.

The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark.

Posted by: Donald Rumsfeld on September 21, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, right, I am the one who hasn't "gained a lot of wisdom" -- how old are you?

Posted by: Thomas1

I've always thought age wasn't relevant to wisdom, and you're posts on this subject have done nothing to change my opinion.

I'm a combat vet who spent three years in the Army so I know a little something about this subject, regardless of being younger than you.

So, back on topic: money ain't gonna get you 500,000 new troops. Period.

Posted by: cyntax on September 21, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie posting as "Thomas1" wrote: For starters, I am 67 years old, you whipper-snapper.

Stefan replied: Well, of course, that's a lie. The bedbug who's now posting at "Thomas1" has also, under other nom de loons, claimed to be a Gulf War combat vet (as "Doug M.") and a late 1980s Annapolis graduate and naval commander (as "Paul").

Don't forget "Cheney".

Charlie is a mentally disturbed pathological liar.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 21, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

How will $225/month get you 500,000 extra troops? Doubling the base salaries across the board -- that will get you a bunch extra, reservations about the war or not.

At any rate, per Kevin's point, Bush hasn't wanted to do what it takes to win either war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Maybe he likes being a wartime president a little too much?

Posted by: American Citizen on September 21, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1:
"If we doubled combat pay tomorrow, ..."

Gee, and I thought it was a Republican truism that Dems believed that any problem could be solved by throwing money at it.

Thomas1 shows his lack of knowledge when it comes to the military.

In the real world, it takes a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks to get someone through the enlisted recruiting process. That is followed by 9 weeks of (Army) basic training. Then add on Advanced Individual Training at 13 weeks for infantry soldiers. Further advanced specialized training adds three to 15 weeks more. So, 29 weeks after the potential recruit walks in the recruiter's office, you have a new infantry PVT or PFC, ready to be part of an infantry unit.

The trouble is, units consisting of nothing but new infantry soldiers won't work. Limits of effective leadership prevent simply doubling the size of existing units. New units will have to be formed, with experienced CPLs and SGTs providing leadership. And, new LTs commanding the new platoons with experienced CAPTs and MAJs over them.

Those experienced CPLs, SGTs, CAPTs and MAJs have to come from somewhere, making the recruiting and expansion problem is even more difficult, but we'll skip that issue.

OCS is the only way to pump up the supply of new 2LTs fast enough to keep up with all those new soldiers. Recruiting for OCS averages 10 to 12 weeks. OCS itself is 16 weeks. Infantry officers then go to Infantry Officer Basic (16 weeks) follwed by Basic Airborne (3 weeks) and the Ranger Course (9 weeks). After that, there is additional specialized training (5 to 16 weeks). Altogether, it takes at least 53 weeks to produce that new Infantry 2LT. It takes similar amounts of time to produce new 2LTs in Armor, Military Police, Intelligence and other fields.

All the above does not even begin to address issues of sufficient training facilities and instructors to train all those new recruits and officers. For instance, in 2005 the Army brought in just over 1,000 new 2LTs through OCS. But, about 6,000 would be needed for 100,000 new enlisted soldiers at existing ratios. OCS would need 6 times the beds, instructors, etc., and all in less than a year.

Similarly, in 2005 the Army trained about 80,000 new recruits. To pump out 100,000 more a year would require more than doubling the facilities, personnel and money spent for training. The immediate impact on exising units would be significant, and negative.

Regarding reenlistments, simply throwing more dollars into the reenlistment bonus pool is not going to have that big an effect. Of all the reasons given by officers and enlisted personnel for not reenlisting last year, money was well down the list. The top reasons were family separation, excessive operational tempo and a desire to do something else with their lives.

For someone who has been away from home for two years during the last four and is facing another year away, there may not be enough dollars the Army could offer to get that person to stay. The same for someone who wants to go to school, or work ina different field or start a business.

After all, nothing the Army has offered so far seems to motivate more tha a handful of the "101st Fighting Keyboarders" to join up.

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on September 21, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

T1, if you can't see the relation between A) and B), I can't really help you. But that might explain why you're so confused on this subject.

I do see a parallel between your argumentative approach of posting lengthy spam on the history of combat pay, asking for sidebars (see above) and this administration's approach to the current problem of force levels, retention, and combat tours in Iraq: it's all about distraction.

Don't discuss the problem in a substantive way or try to find a workable answer, just keep hanging on until it's someone else's problem.

Posted by: cyntax on September 21, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

The main driver of our problems in Iraq is the duplicity of the current administration. They lied to the public about the connection of Iraq to 9/11: remember Bush now says there was no connection. That's part of the reason people don't want to take the chance of dying there, they don't beleive it's a good idea and they're voting with their feet (as are current enlistees).

There's a strategic side to this as well. This administration lied about what it would take to win this war. The Wolfowitz/Shinseki dust-up being the epitome of that. But it goes further, prior to 9/11 Rumsfeld had embarked on a plan of downsizing the Army, making it smaller and more mobile, relying on technology to take the place of boots on the ground. Fine. But then we did an about face and asked the Army to undertake a "big" army endeavour of pacifying Iraq, while still pretending that a "samll" army could do the job. So we need to have an honest conversation about what the Army should be doing going forward. If we want a pax Americana enforced by our Army, we need a much bigger Army and a totally different set of strategic goals.

If we don't want them doing that, we gotta quit sticking them with "big" jobs like pacifying entire countries.

Posted by: cyntax on September 21, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that an essential property of the volunteer army is that it's a peacetime army - it's big enough to handle a fairly large, but fairly quick, war, or it can handle a number of pretty small but ongoing ones.

But if we're to fight a sustained war of any size, the volunteer army is clearly meant to be the core of a larger army of draftees.

The evidence for this is clear from the facts on the ground: we've averaged about 140,000 troops in Iraq, 20,000 in Afghanistan, and some smaller numbers in Bosnia and Kosovo - and we clearly can't sustain that for much longer, even with the heavy use of the Reserves and National Guard that we've already had.

Right now, we've got about 1/3 the number of troops in combat theatres as we did at the height of Vietnam. So this is just a small-to-medium-sized war, in terms of troop requirements. But we don't have the troops to fight this war.

So in order to fight this war - this central front in that existential conflict, the War on Terror - properly, we need a draft. But there will be no draft, because (a) it's a political loser, and (b) Bush doesn't really believe it's the central front of an existential conflict.

Posted by: RT on September 21, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

A LEADERSHIP CHANGE IS NEEDED IN ORDER TO LET THE GENERALS PLAN AND IMPLEMENT THEIR BEST PLAN
It is well documented that the present GOP leadership does not allow open and honest plans. They have even forbade plans in order to hide possible and probable adverse consequences being bared to Congressional and public scrutiny.
Now we are in a position where the opposition in Iraq has grown in manpower, armament and organizational capabilities. What we could have accomplished with 140,000 troops and, god forbid, a plan in place is long gone. We've given the opposition time to organize and arm which leads to the conclusion that our troops are more in harms way for each passing day.
To have America reach the position where open, honest and accountable planning can take place the electorate absolutely must secure enough Congressional control in November to pry the hitherto inept GOP leadership away from sole planning authority. This should free up the military to more freely disclose what needs to be done operationally and what results are most likely.
The GOP "plan" that favors issuing political statements over protecting American soldiers needs to end.

Posted by: cognitorex on September 21, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

How many volunteers do you think we could get if we doubled combat pay?

Wouldn't it be cheaper to just keep private sector wages stagnant and send another million jobs overseas.

Posted by: B on September 21, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: pachipuro on September 21, 2006 at 1:47:
I love how Bush hides behind the generals. Blames them for everything.

Are you insinuating that Bush the Impotent likes "generals behinds" ???

Posted by: G.Kerby on September 21, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'd just like to point out that Thomas1 posted no fewer than 13 comments to this one post, some of them longer than the post itself. This raises a question:

Is Thomas1 being paid to pester the shit out of us, and if not, how does he support himself?

Posted by: CrackWilding on September 21, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

The only hope we have of winning in Iraq is to go to a full WW2-style mobilization. Reinstate the draft, seize factories to produce war materiel, and saturate Iraq with a million troops. Colonize the place.

If you don't support that, if you support withdrawal or stay-the-course, then you support eventual failure in Iraq.

Withdrawal has the advantage that it will be over quicker and cheaper than stay-the-course or adapt-to-win or whatever the fuck the Repubs are calling it now.

Posted by: grytpype on September 21, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP "plan" that favors issuing political statements over protecting American soldiers needs to end.
Posted by: cognitorex

Bang on.

Posted by: cyntax on September 21, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Reduce the violence in Iraq by raising the standard of living for the poorest Iraqis. There is no doubt that people living in severe poverty are more likely to turn to desperate, violent action. The U.S. defense budget for 2006 is $420 billion. For $40-$60 billion, we could end severe poverty not just in Iraq, but around the world. In the short term more troops may be necessary to maintain stability in Iraq, but in the long term an end to humanitarian crises in Iraq will be necessary if we want to drastically reduce our troops there. See borgenproject.org

Posted by: Maureen206 on September 21, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP "plan" that favors issuing political statements over protecting American soldiers needs to end.

The only GOP plan for Iraq is to tread water for awhile so Junior can save face and some other President can lose Iraq finally and for good.

The Iraq Study Group is going to recommend withdrawal, but they're holding their report until after the midterms to help the Repubs.

The ISG was Bush Sr's way of giving Junior a chance to withdraw while still saving face, but I bet he doesn't take it. He'll make the ISG shred their report instead.

He lied us into the war, lost the war, and is dragging out the conclusion to save his sorry ass.

Posted by: grytpype on September 21, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas1: Fuck no, we have to do whatever the Commander in Chief says, even if it's a catastrophe. And no one is allowed to give him advice.

You're about as smart as your leader.

Posted by: grytpype on September 21, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Here comes partition.

The plan, according to what Shia political parties discuss, would be to drive the Sunni into the wilderness of the western desert, and hold Baghdad for the Southern federal region of Shiastan, from Basra to Baghdad.

The Iraq army can ally itself with the Muqtada al-Sadr militia and the SCIRI militia, purge much of the Sunni from Baghdad.

The gets US forces out, and out damn quick. Partition minimizes the number of Arabs slaughtering or being slaughtered.

Kurds get Kurkuk, and Turks get Mosul. Sunni get the raw end of the deal, but, what can I say?

Posted by: Matt on September 21, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Red - you have no confidence in the Iraqi troops. NATO feels differently. In yesterday's news, the Iraqi troops took over from the NATO troops in the 2nd of Iraq's 18 provinces. They hope to take over in all 18 within 18 months.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 21, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Red - you have no confidence in the Iraqi troops. NATO feels differently. In yesterday's news, the Iraqi troops took over from the NATO troops in the 2nd of Iraq's 18 provinces. They hope to take over in all 18 within 18 months.

There are no NATO troops in Iraq, you fucking retard. Individual states who are also part of NATO, such as Britain, have forces in Iraq, but NATO as an organization doesn't.

In Afghanistan, of course, it's a different story, and NATO forces, including those of France, Germany and Canada, are fighting alongside the US, doing the job we should be doing if we hadn't fucked off to Iraq.

Posted by: Stefan on September 21, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, thanks for confirming my point that Italy considered the Iraqi troops qualified to take over for them in one of the provences.

I will concede your quibble that the Iraqis replaced troops of a NATO member, rather than NATO troops, if you concede that the Iraqi troops have made great gains in their fighting capability.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 21, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

I will concede your quibble that the Iraqis replaced troops of a NATO member

It's not a quibble; they're either NATO forces or they're not -- and they're not.

Further, South Korea has the third largest contingent of troops on the ground at 2800 -- they're not a NATO member. Neither is Georgia with 900.

The coalition forces in Iraq belong to the U.N. too -- but they're not U.N. Peacekeepers either.

And the Romanian troops -- not vampires, just in case you were wondering.

Posted by: Windhorse on September 21, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Was the U.S. Constitution amended to make the ISG "Commander-in-Chief" while I wasn't looking?"

Judging from the quality of your observations, we can assume that most thingsif not this, in particularhappen when you are not looking.

Posted by: Kenji on September 21, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, I'm certainly not an expert.."

But I thought he so totally like did all his National Guard service....right?

Posted by: Alex on September 22, 2006 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK


ex-lib: if you concede that the Iraqi troops have made great gains in their fighting capability.


have any more current info?

here's the last report i found...

No Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support

Friday, February 24, 2006; Posted: 8:29 p.m. EST (01:29 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.

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