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What the Troops Are Saying
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
WHAT THE TROOPS ARE SAYING: Move over, Mr Rumsfeld. The people actually fighting this war just told something called the truth:
In contrast to the Pentagon's stock answer that there are enough troops on the ground in Iraq, the commanders said [to a Senate committee] that they not only needed more manpower but also had repeatedly asked for it. Indeed, military sources told Time that as recently as August 2005, a senior military official requested more troops but got turned down flat. There are about 160,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq, a number U.S. commanders in the region plan to maintain at least through the Iraqi national assembly elections on Dec. 15. But the battalion commanders, according to sources close to last week's meeting, said that because there are not enough troops, they have to "leapfrog" around Iraq to keep insurgents from returning to towns that have been cleared out. The officers also stressed that the lack of manpower—rather than of protective armor or signal jammers—posed one of the biggest obstacles in dealing with roadside bombs, which have caused the majority of U.S. casualties in Iraq. The commanders, according to the meeting sources, said there are simply "never enough" explosives experts on the ground. So far, no officer has been willing to go on record to complain about the need for more troops. But there is one positive sign: the Army recently decided to double the number of explosives experts to 2,500 over the next few years.
I'm not sure whether more troops are now going to exacerbate or improve the problem. I do feel much more confident in believing that the failure to have enough troops to provide post-invasion security was catastrophic to the mission. We paid a high price for Rumsfeld's ego and intransigence.
EMAIL OF THE DAY: An emailer challenges me:
"Seriously, support another war. The war Bush is fighting (thanks to Rumsfeld) is not a war we can win. So we need to fight another one. I haven't seen you give a good argument against the thinking that a timetable for US withdrawal would force the Iraqis to face the inevitable future in which the US is not the dominant military power in their country.
Bush is fighting god-only-knows who in Iraq. It surely isn't the enemy we're facing. He continues to profess a belief that we are combatting - and not fueling - terrorism. If these guys win, it'll be by accident.
Support a war against the real enemy."
Last time I checked, Zarqawi was the real enemy. He was before the invasion and he has taken advantage of the Rumsfeld-enabled chaos that succeeded it. I'd be happy to draw down troops if we also ensure a real and functioning national military to control the Baathist revanchists and the Jihadists. But peremptorily leaving another vacuum there right now seems madness to me.
- 12:08:00 PM
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