2005 January 20 Thursday
US Officers In Iraq Want More Troops

Writing for the Washington Times (a conservative newspaper) Rowan Scarborough (who also can't be labelled and dismissed by war optimists as a left-liberal) reports on US military officers in Iraq who are telling their colleagues back home that the US needs more soldiers in Iraq.

Officers in Iraq are telling colleagues back in the United States that they disagree with the official Pentagon position and think they need more troops on the ground.

Retired and active-duty personnel who have received such e-mails say they are not couched as gripes. Rather, the shortfall is explained in terms of, "If we had more soldiers, we could be in two places at once," said a retired four-star Army general. This source said he has received such unofficial communications from a crosssection of commanders in the Army.


He said the most-often repeated figure is six to eight more brigades, or more than 50,000 more troops.

The official US military position is that the number of soldiers in Iraq is sufficient. This would be fortunate if it was true since there are no extra soldiers available to send. The official position is that the Iraqi military is going to be built up to do the job that the US military is incapable of doing. That build-up looks to be about 45% complete, at least on paper.

The U.S. goal is for a nationwide security force of 273,000 Iraqis. About 122,000 are now in the field.

But then there are the not so small problems that A) the Iraqi soldiers have to not desert when faced with a real battle and B) that they have to fight for the side of the US and the Iraqi government when the battles come. If anyone comes across statements of US officers on when exactly the Iraqis are supposed to have 273,000 soldiers fieldable please let me know either here in the comments or by email. We should keep track of these projections to see how (un)realistic the official statements turn out to be.

Something I'd like to see: Iraqi National Guard units killing more insurgents/rebels/resistance fighters (and what is the best name for those people?) than the US military does in some substantial sized engagement. Not expecting that to happen this year. Will it ever?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 January 20 12:00 PM  MidEast Iraq Military Needs

PacRim Jim said at January 20, 2005 5:34 PM:

Land them on the Lebanese coast and march them to Iraq, taking down everyone who looks cross-eyed at them along the way.

Fatheadjr. said at January 20, 2005 5:59 PM:

Slowly but surely the US will be faced with the proposition of employing the draft. Think otherwise, and you are foolish. My prediction is the election is going to be a bust, and we will only see and hear what is allowed. The best way to understand the "real" story will be from foreign media outlets.

TangoMan said at January 20, 2005 6:56 PM:

Let's solve a few problems with one stoke. The draft would be very unpopular. Instead, tighten the borders and open recruiting offices in Mexico, Guatamale, El Salvador, etc and offer the high IQ and proficient young men and women a legal route towards US citizinship. These people will have made a gesture of fealty towards the US and earned their place in US society.

Sure there would be an uproar about Empire, etc, but if the alternative is to draft you from law school or otherwise interrupt your life with forced servitude then protestors may stomach the indignities suffered by the foreign born soldiers, who I might add have volunteered for "The Army of One" and would get educational benefits, job skills, etc that, after their terms are up, are actually skills that are more marketable than cheap manual labor.

Randall Parker said at January 20, 2005 7:18 PM:


But your proposal assumes that we actually have a national interest in putting a large number of soldiers into Iraq to make the Iraqis bend completely to our will. Well, is that assumption correct?

If we really have such a compelling national interest then we ought to be building up a huge military right now. Yet Bush is not pursuing such a path.

gcochran said at January 20, 2005 7:33 PM:

As far as I can see, the only payoff to invading Iraq is that it has acted as an idiot detector.

TangoMan said at January 20, 2005 8:10 PM:


Come on Randall :) We're too much of a like mind on this. No, there's no National Interest in doing so, but that won't constrain Bush.

Bush doesn't need to take action because god is on his side and the elections this month will make everything better. Who needs to contingency plan when you talk to god? Beside the focus is on other countries.

When push comes to shove, the foreign legions idea prevents the draft, shores up the illegal immigration issue for his base by restricting it and he saves face by not withdrawing from Iraq but still putting more troops in there. Never underestimate how much emphasis there is going to be on saving face - forget national interest - there's history and dynasty building to worry about.

Randall Parker said at January 20, 2005 9:13 PM:


Any new way of getting more immigrants will not be implemented in place of an existing way. It will be added on. So I oppose the Foreign Legion just on those grounds.

Besides, we should be responsible for defending ourselves.

He isn't going to put more troops into Iraq because that would cost more money. He wants to make his tax cut permanent and the deficit is large already. So a draft or a foreign legion is not in the cards.

What I'd like to know is what is he going to do about Iran?

gcochran said at January 20, 2005 9:37 PM:

Airstrikes. The Iranians will retaliate in Iraq.

Stephen said at January 20, 2005 10:10 PM:

But airstrikes don't help because as you rightly say the Iranians will retaliate in Iraq (infiltration, special-ops, shipping in anti-armour weapons, oh, and some sniper rifles with anti-body armour rounds etc), and the Coalition of the Witless don't have the troops to cope with both an insurgency and a properly trained and armed soldiers.

In fact, at its whim, Iran could probably let 100,000 irregulars from Pakistan transit through for a stint in Iraq. If Iraq is a mess now, after an attack on Iran it'd be mess ** 2.

Stephen said at January 20, 2005 11:02 PM:

Hmmm, looks like Isreal will do the deed: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/21/politics/21cheney.html

Not that its going to stop the Iranians retaliating in Iraq - especially if Isreali jets overfly Iraqi airspace.

gcochran said at January 20, 2005 11:36 PM:

Did I ever say it would help? I merely said it would happen. These guys are about as easy to predict, and as sensible, as a dog wrapping its leash around a tree.

Anyhow, you're forgetting the best part. Think strategic. Iraqi oil exports stop.

Randall Parker said at January 21, 2005 12:24 AM:


I read about a week ago that Iraqi oil exports are already down below 1 million barrels per day and that the insurgents are becoming progressively more skilled at disrupting production and shipments. So whether you are right about a shutdown of oil exports depends on whether any oil is still getting out by the time the airstrikes happen.

But yes, I agree. Airstrikes seem the most likely next step.

When do you think Bush will do airstrikes? This year? 2006? 2007?

Stephen said at January 21, 2005 1:41 AM:

You mean Iraq is still managing to export oil?

My eye goes to the straights of Hormuz - a few mines and it'd be closed to oil tankers going to Iraq (well, the 3 barrels a day it can get to the ports), Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi & Qatar.

Stephen said at January 21, 2005 1:59 AM:

Also Iraq's oil pipelines converge at a port right on the Iranian border... Juicy targets for Iran.

Here's a map of Iraq's oil pipelines. It seems current. http://www.sunship.com/mideast/info/maps/iraq-map.html

The same site has an illuminating religious/ethinic map of Iraq:

Invisible Scientist said at January 21, 2005 5:32 AM:

Stephen wrote:
"Hmmm, looks like Isreal will do the deed: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/21/politics/21cheney.html
Not that its going to stop the Iranians retaliating in Iraq - especially if Isreali jets overfly Iraqi airspace."

Hmmmm... It seems that you are in favor of delegating the Israelis to do the dirty job of attacking Iran.
Then Israel would get the blame, and the White Europe would keep its hands clean. Like the Roman Empire using
the foreign slaves to do their fighting... It turns out that Europe is a much more valuable target than Israel
for the emerging empire, namely the USI (United States of Islam), because
Europe has a much larger territory and population to conquer, instead
of a small and impoverished country like Israel. The Europeans know very well that if the emerging USI
gets several hundred nuclear missiles in 15 years, then they can successfully coerce Europe to
surrender unconditionally, and this is why the European elite secretly hopes that Israel will be
involved in a nuclear exchange with Iran and many Islamic countries. They want to sacrifice Israel
for their own security.

Stephen said at January 21, 2005 6:09 AM:

Nah, its more that Israel can attack anyone in the region without the target getting more pissed with it than it already is.

I really don't see the gripe everyone seems to have with Europe. Keep in mind that several European countries were or are part of the coalition, and that the public differences between the US, France and Germany amount to mere disagreements about appropriate methodology rather than objective.

By the way, might things have been better now (for whatever value of 'better' you choose) if the US had listened to France and Germany, and decided to rely on the UN monitoring program instead of invading Iraq? How differently might the middle east chess game have played out over the last couple of years? Or over the next couple years for that matter.

If the citizens of the United States had been told that they could choose between invading Iraq or having Osama in a cage in Times Square, which do you think most would choose?

Richard said at January 21, 2005 6:49 AM:

"Hmmm, looks like Isreal will do the deed"

Right now, in Iran I bet they are just sitting around waiting for the strike.

Osirak was a shot out of the blue and much closer to Israel. The Iranian stuff is already dispersed and surely the Iranians are at work securing it all the more.

If Israel can pull this off successfully, it will be, in the annals of covert operations, the greatest strike in history. I don't think I am ready to look for a bookie to place a bet on it yet.

Stephen said at January 21, 2005 6:02 PM:

I don't think Isreal has the capacity to hit all of the sites, but they can surely destroy a couple of the key sites. That should be enough to put Iran's program back 10 years.

I read elsewhere that in the late-90s Isreal took delivery of 25 F15s that had been modified with long range fuel tanks. Now, while they were likely bought to deliver nukes, they can nevertheless carry conventional bombs...and just recently Isreal took delivery of some bunker busting munitions.

Oh, another thing I'd do if I were Isreal, on the return journey I'd land a few of my planes in Iraq and I'd make sure the world knows it. The idea being that that would put the United States in the position of having to publically and formally declare neutrality or otherwise become a waring party. If I recall, when a non-combatant State comes into posession of a military asset of waring countries they must impound the equipment and crew for the duration of hostilities, otherwise they are deemed to be combatants. So, if the US hands the plane and pilot back to Isreal, then that amounts to a declaration that the US is a combatant party, and Iran is able to attack the US 'lawfully'. I honestly can't see the US being willing to impound an Isreali aircraft and pilot. And another thing, I think the asset and pilot would have to be held in Iraq rather than taken out of theatre.

Anyway, that's my recollection of the Battle of the River Plate movie... So, give it as much weight as is wise!

Invisible Scientist said at January 22, 2005 4:45 AM:

Stephen wrote:
"I don't think Isreal has the capacity to hit all of the sites, but they can surely destroy a couple of the key sites. That should be enough to put Iran's program back 10 years."

I don't think that hitting only a few key sites among many dozens of secret installations will be enough
to put Iran's program back 10 years. This is because Iran has two kinds of programs: 1) The plutonium creating
reactors, and 2) Uranium enrichment factories which consist of gas centrifuge machines. The second program
is VERY easy to disperse all over the country, with minimal building requirements. These are very slow and
rather inefficient machines, but by putting together thousands of these small instruments, they can concentrate
enough enriched uranium to make several nukes per year, and this will happen in a few years, unless the
US sends enough commandos to destroy most of the nuclear sites and to arrest all the Iranian nuclear
technicians. The "commandos" I am talking about, would be many thousands of top notch soldiers, and this
large team is simply not available. After the attack on Iran, then the nightmare will be to keep the place
occupied, to prevent the restarting of the program.

I am really worried that like the neocons, you are also oversimplifying the difficulty of the problem we
are dealing with. We have to face the fact that we are dealing with the first global guerilla war in history,
and the kinds of weapons the guerillas will gradually obtain, will make the guerilla war more and more likely
to influence all phases of the life in the Western world ( by which I mean that in a few decades, cheap mini-nukes
which will fit backpacks or even briefcases, will be available for thousands of suicide bombers who already
have US and European citizenship, and this new generation will be possibly born in the Western world, they
won't be naturalized citizens, they will not have foreign accents. What I am saying is that we are dealing
with a problem of enormous magnitude, and simple temporary military solutions will not be enough.

Stephen said at January 22, 2005 6:54 AM:

I'm just speculating on how things might play out - its not a preference, just a projection based on the dumb 'strategies' that the west has been using over the last couple of years.

If it were up to me, I'd operate on the presumption that Iran will ultimately develop nukes. Accepting that that is the case, then the only real option is to ensure that Iran has sufficient interest in not letting anyone else get their hands on its new toys. How to give the Iranian the necessary self-interest? Well, I think I'd opt for bringing Iran in from the cold - encourage the development of an in-depth economy, encourage international economic ties, encourage a middle class etc. I'd hope that this strategy would reduce their paranoaia of the west, while at the same time distancing themselves from rogue behaviour like letting Osama borrow some nukes.

Curious Citizen from Sweden said at January 22, 2005 12:08 PM:

Invisible Scientist wrote : "cheap mini-nukes which will fit backpacks or even briefcases"

Its considerably worse than that. If you can fit the nuke into a standard freight container you can send it to almost everywhere in the world. A mini-nuke would be better, but not a lot better.

Stephen said at January 22, 2005 5:02 PM:

Invisible, I'm currently reading the history of the Orion project (basically using nuclear bomb explosions to propel a spacecraft). Orion was the dream child of Freeman Dyson and a guy named Ted Taylor. Taylor was also one of US's best bomb designers who for a time simultaneously held the US record for the biggest and smallest fission bomb designs. He was especially interested in small designs and managed to build one that was as small as a baseball - and that was in the 50s.

Also, the book mentions in passing that there was fear in the 50s of extremists getting their hands on some of the smaller bombs. At the top of the list were United States based groups who it was thought might take it upon themselves to blow up some godless commies in Moscow. As they say, things change but stay the same.

By the way, I'd recommend the book to anyone with a general interest in the field or the era. Its an easy read that really brings home the secret world of nuclear weapons scientists and engineers of the 40s & 50s. "Project Orion - the true story of the atomic spaceship", George Dyson, ISBN 0-8050-7284-5.

Invisible scientist said at January 23, 2005 1:44 AM:

Stephen wrote:
"Well, I think I'd opt for bringing Iran in from the cold - encourage the development of an in-depth economy, encourage international economic ties, encourage a middle class etc. I'd hope that this strategy would reduce their paranoaia of the west, while at the same time distancing themselves from rogue behaviour like letting Osama borrow some nukes."

The problem with Iran and other emerging Islamic super-powers, is not that they are paranoid about the West,
it is that they correctly see the West (and in particular Europe) for what it is: the European civilization is
fundamentally weak, hedonistic, short-sighted, and that Europe will surrender unconditionally if
the emerging Islamic super-powers threaten Europe with 1,000 nuclear missiles in the year 2025.
The mutually assured destruction theme helped the United States of America negotiate with
the "godless commie Soviets" you are talking about. But in 1981, I spoke to a professor from France
who was visiting Boston, and when I said to him that the government of France is being too submissive with
the Soviets, he said to me that he would rather surrender to the Soviets than getting nuked. Please note that
at that time France already had a very credible arsenal of hundreds of nuclear missiles that were already
designed to reach Russia, and France certainly had many hydrogen bombs, this French scholar knew about
the French capabilities, and yet he was still taking about surrendering and being permanently ruled
by the Soviets instead of getting nuked. Unfortunately, I see that this French citizen was not an isolated case,
many of them share the same attitude. Now if I were the leader of the emerging Islamic super-power in 2030,
I would have probably be inclined to gamble with the assumption that with 95 % probability, Europe
would surrender unconditionally if threatened by 1,000 nuclear missiles. With the possible exception of
UK, Europe would surrender unconditionally.

Stephen said at January 23, 2005 5:25 PM:

To answer Randall's question of whether the Iraq 'insurgency' should be called an insurgency or a rebellion or a resistance, here's my thinking...

Insurgency: I think it implies that the fighters are fighting against a national government;

Rebels: Implies that they are rebelling against something they were once part of;

Resistance: Implies that they are fighting an occupying force and its collaborators.

I opt for 'resistance' for the actions to date, but post elections (maybe not the Jan election but the ones later in the year), I think I'd opt for 'insurgency'.

Proborders said at January 23, 2005 10:25 PM:

Perhaps some people think that Bush should have called for the draft after 9-11-2001.

Tango Man, I would likely oppose the creation of a new program that grants US residency and/or US citizenship to Mexican and Central American residents in exchange for military service. About half of all immigrants in the US are Hispanic. Proportionately immigration from Hispanic countries to the US should be decreased, not increased.

Perhaps an American foreign legion should be created, however. There are many possible sources of soldiers. Black Africa, for one. Would Iraq like to be occupied by more than 100,000 black soldiers?

Mexico has more than 100 million residents. There are millions of illegal aliens from Mexico in the US. What if Mexico were to colonize Iraq, the Arab part of Iraq? Sounds interesting. It's better in my opinion for Mexico to colonize Iraq than for Mexico to "colonize" or colonize the US.

Invisible Scientist, United States of Islam?

If Iran obtain nukes, the Arab world would probably want nukes too. Iran with nukes equals Arab countries with nukes in the future.

Proborders said at January 24, 2005 4:37 PM:

Randall, in 2003 the US Navy's battleforce, which includes aircraft carriers and destroyers, was the smallest in number "since before World War I" (see James W. Crawley's "Navy has fewest ships since before World War I"). Quoting Crawley, "The Navy has continued to shrink despite increasing demands on the maritime force since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks."

The US Navy's aircraft fleet might be reduced from 12 to 11 ships to save money (more here and here). Fewer F-22s and JSFs may be purchased.

Why the possible cutbacks? To save money because of the US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The occupation of Iraq may cause the US to become militarily weaker. What do those of you who favor the US occupation of Iraq think about that?

Godfrey S Ikoku said at February 9, 2005 1:40 AM:

No.1Irawo close onigboogbo
Maryland, Ikeja Lagos,

Tel: 234 01 8177956

Dear Sir,
I have been trying all days to get intouch with am intersted in joing the the US Military am 21years old i attended army children high school ikeja maliltary cantoment Lagos Nigeria am 5''5 feet tall.
Please sir help out by sending the recruitment form if my application is acceptable am goin to be fateful to serve the united state government the year is still vartual young so that i can join the next badge Please and Please i have filled seveal forms and i was told that they will get back to me in two weeks time and up till date no reply. I listen to Mr Bush's conversation he made it clear to the world that everything in the united is posible in God we trust i will be so Glad if u can help by sending the recruitment form and other neccesary doc to my mail box so i can fill and sumit them thanks for taking your time to read and God bless you.

Godfrey .S. Ikoku

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