MoonDawg's Den: More troops needed...across the board

MoonDawg's Den

Monday, January 08, 2007

More troops needed...across the board

At our monthy drill over the weekend I was able to meet with my friend Captain Jim, who has recently returned from a stint working with the J2 at CENTCOM in Iraq. Capt. Jim says that additional combat soldiers are definitely needed in Iraq (and President Bush is apparently going to announce a troop increase this evening). More than that, however, he noted there is an urgent need to bolster manpower across all the armed forces. Today we have less than 1.5 million men and women in active duty service; during the 1980s the U.S. had over 3.5 million uniformed active duty servicepeople.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, foolish politicans from both parties proclaimed a "peace dividend", and the military was gutted during the 1990s. Today we are still paying the price for this "holiday from history", and the present overall active duty strength (or lack thereof) has made President Bush reluctant to increase the occupation force in Iraq, since it will mean sending units for a third tour of duty in Iraq.

Tonight Bush will announce more troop deployments to Iraq, but will he call for a major increase in personnel authorizations overall? Doubtfull; he has shown no sign of doing this in the past six years, and with the Democrats holding Congress it's now even less likely to happen. Our long "holiday from history" continues...

UPDATE: Got my dates confused; Bush's address will be Wednesday evening. This afternoon I had the displeasure of catching that execrable asshat Ted Kennedy yammering on about the bill he's introducing to deny funds for any troop increase in Iraq. Well good, let's get the members of Congress on record - who is in favor of winning the war, and who is not?

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  • "Well good, let's get the members of Congress on record - who is in favor of winning the war, and who is not?"

    Actually, let's do that. Since most polls show fewer than 20% of Americans support sending more troops and since Democrats were handed both houses of congress running on anti-war platforms, let's see who's committing political suicide on this bill. McCain already said that he's putting his presidential chances in jeopardy by supporting the president's plan.

    Furthermore, this isn't about who wants to win the war or not. It's about who wants to bring our troops home now or a year (or 10 years, it makes little difference) from now with the result being that Iraq slips into a civil war either way. Do we kill more of our troops on a lost cause, or do we bring 'em home? The American people have spoken on this one, Garry, and I'm afraid that you're in the minority, a small and shrinking minority. However, I hope that those who support this plan keep talking like that because America is seeing through the rhetoric. Let's get them on record. I agree wholeheartedly.

    BTW, we do agree on one thing: Ted Kennedy is an asshat.

    By Anonymous Jeff, At 1:52 AM, January 10, 2007  

  • BTW, I logged into the Den today and switched over to a Google account so that I can post here. I'll write one soon...I hope!!!

    By Blogger Jeff, At 1:53 AM, January 10, 2007  

  • The "polls"? We should conduct military operations based upon polls??

    A key aspect of leadership is doing the right thing, not the popular thing. "Mr. Lincoln's War" was wildly unpopular at various points in the 1860s. Should he have thrown in the towel after, say, the 1863 draft riots in New York? Sen. McCain annoys me at times, but at least I know he's not going to formulate national security policy by sticking his finger in the wind.

    In any case, there is no alternative to winning this thing. Leaving Iraq before the central government is stable would, at best, leave the country a terrorist breeding ground that would make Taliban-era Afghanistan look like Disneyworld. At worst, Iraq would devolve into an Iranian rump state, allowing the Islamic Republic to threaten regional and global security on an even greater scale than it already is.

    It's not about "who wants to win"? That's the only thing it should be about.

    By Blogger Garry, At 11:33 AM, January 10, 2007  

  • "The "polls"? We should conduct military operations based upon polls??"

    No, we shouldn't; however, Bush doesn't have enough political capital to pull this one off. If he were a popular president, he could maybe make it work with as little support as it has, but not with his waning popularity. Congress won't pay for it; ergo, it won't happen.

    As for leaving before the government is stable, I don't think that's a realistic option. I think that when we leave, whether now or in ten years, one of three things will happen:

    1- The Iraqis will stand up and rebuild their nation under their new constitution, taking charge of their own security. (I'm not sure how likely this is, but it's more likely to happen once we leave, not while we're there).

    2- The "low-grade" civil war that is happening now will escalate as sectarian groups battle for control. The Shi'a will stomp the Sunni and form a religious state heavily influenced by Iran. (I believe this is the most likely scenario.)

    3- Once we leave, Iran will come in and occupy Iraq and use it for its own nefarious purposes. (Probably about as likely as number 1.)

    Now, 2 and 3 aren't real pleasant thoughts to us here in the U.S.; however, as a realist, I think that 2 is the most likely no matter how long we stay. The solution in Iraq is not a military one. It is a political one that needs to be decided by Iraqis, not us. We have done more than enough already (said very sarcastically).

    Might I also suggest that if number 2 and 3 don't sound good to you, you might want to blame the Bush administration whose failed policy got us into this mess in the first place. If they hadn't started this war, Saddam would still be a pretty good check on Iran's power, something that we are failing at miserably. Furthermore, if they were going to invade Iraq, they should have listened to Colin Powell who suggested more troops in the first place. That was when a larger force could have made a difference, not now.

    Maybe I'm pessimistic about the whole situation, but it truly is a mess. And, frankly, I don't trust Bush or his administration to come up with a plan that will work. They've had 4 years and 3,000 of our soldiers to do it and have failed. The American people voted for change, not more failed policy.

    By Blogger Jeff, At 5:59 PM, January 10, 2007  

  • "Political capital"? Bush is the CinC, and has a use-of-force authorization from Congress in his pocket. He needs no "political capital" to order the troop increases and strategic changes he spoke of last night; the authority already rests with the Executive.

    And I'd like to see Congress try to defund the military at a time of war. If the Dems want to lose in '08, depriving our combat soldiers with the necessary material support is a sure-fire way to do it.

    It may be that you will always see "low-grade" sectarian strife for the next several decades in Iraq, along the lines of what we've seen in Kashmir and Jammu between Muslims and Hindus. But if the Iraqis can build a strong central government, that will simply be an unpleasant fact of life, one that many other people in that part of the world are able to live with.

    And let's get some perspective, shall we? The area of central Iraq is a "mess" at the moment, but we've had great successes in rebuilding the civil and social infrastructure for the Kurds in the north and the Marsh Arabs in the south. Yes, 3,000 troops lost are 3,000 horrible individual tragedies, but in historical terms it does not even come close to the worst that America has had to sacrifice; the US lost over ten times that number of servicemen during the 3 years of the Korean war, for example - a war that has yet to be resolved, by the way.

    By Blogger Garry, At 1:12 PM, January 11, 2007  

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