WASHINGTON – In recent days, US military commanders have delivered a bleak message about Iraq: The number of American troops there is not likely to be substantially reduced anytime soon.
Yet the current force may have been strained near the breaking point by frequent deployments to the region, say experts. That means in the months to come, the Pentagon could face increased pressure to expand the size of the active-duty Army, or rely even more heavily on call-ups of National Guard and Reserve units.
The inadequate size of the US military for Iraq isn't new news. Bush does not want to admit he got the US into a war that is a big overstretch. But events are making this fact harder to ignore.
Currently, about 144,000 US troops are in Iraq, said Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, chief US military spokesman in Iraq, at an operational briefing in Baghdad this week.
The US has only one brigade in the US for every brigade deployed. Normally the US military wants 2 in the US for every 1 deployed. Due to the overstretch each brigade is getting only 1 year off from combat for every year in Iraq. All non-deployed brigades are rated as not ready.
Uh, oh. The Iraq invasion might cause more immigration to the United States in the form of foreigner serving as soldiers to get US citizenship.
Short of obligatory national service, moves such as opening the US military to foreigners with no US ties, but who wish to move toward US residence or citizenship, might be necessary for the Army to grow in a reasonable amount of time.
US policy in Iraq might go beyond "Invade the world" and even grow to include the second part of Steve Sailer's formulation "Invite the world". Throw in his "In hock to the world" since Iraq is getting paid for with deficit spending. "Invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the world" is increasing the risk of terrorism, lowering the quality of life in the United States, and saddling us with debts that'll harm our living standards even more in the longer run.
NASIRIYA, Iraq — Italy, the last major Western European ally of the United States and Britain in Iraq, ended its mission Thursday, handing the province under its control over to Iraqi troops.
So long and thanks for all the pasta.
Britain may reduce the number of troops in Iraq by around half, after handing over control in Basra to Iraqis within the next nine months, a senior British commander has said.
The Brits are going to about half of the current 7000. By next summer they'll have only 3000 to 4000 troops left in Iraq. The US effectively will be on its own. But maybe the Brits will maintain a token force so that those who wish to delude themselves and others can pretend we still have an ally in Iraq.
The US has now lost more people in Iraq than we lost on 9/11. The Iraqis are losing more than one 9/11 worth of deaths per month due to sectarian violence and insurgency activities.
U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now surpass those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America's history, the trigger for what came next.
The latest milestone for a country at war came Friday without commemoration. It came without the precision of knowing who was the 2,974th to die in conflict. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Invasion of Iraq did not protect the American people from terrorists. Tough policies on immigration and visas could provide far more protection than anything the US could do militarily in the Middle East.
Aren't we forgetting some military? Who could I be thinking of? It is on the tip of my tongue. Why can't I remember them? Oh, right the Iraqi Army. Tribal Iraqi soldiers do not want to leave their home regions to go to Baghdad.
The U.S. needs 3,000 more Iraqi forces to join the battle in Baghdad, but requests have not been met because Iraqi soldiers are reluctant to leave their home regions, the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad said Friday.
Maj. Gen. James Thurman said that while the U.S. has 15,000 troops in Baghdad _ which military leaders say is the priority battlefront in Iraq _ only about 9,000 Iraqi soldiers are there. That is just a fraction of the 128,000 Iraqi Army troops that the U.S. says are now trained and equipped.
Okay, our allies are all leaving. The Iraqis? Well, don't be fooled into thinking of "Iraqis" the way we might think of, say, "Dutch" or "Italians" or "Germans". The cousin marrying Iraqis aren't keen to fight away from home and extended tribal family. They focus on more local and family matters. In Bush-speak, the Iraqis have "family values".
Manfred Nowak, the UN's chief anti-torture expert, captured the headlines round the world when he suggested that torture could be worse in Iraq now than it was under Saddam Hussein.
Torture is indeed at appalling levels in Iraq. Everyone, it seems, from the Iraqi forces to the militias to the anti-US insurgents, now routinely use torture on the people they kill.
According to the report, bodies sent to the capital’s morgue habitually bore signs of severe torture, including acid-induced injuries, burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones, backs, hands and legs, missing eyes and teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails.
The Iraqi authorities confirmed that most of the bodies that were found in the past six months bore signs of serious torture.
“Unfortunately, the information released by UNAMI in its report is true and reflects the reality of Iraq today. Most of the bodies found were tortured and were sometimes even impossible to recognise,” said Dr Fa'aq Amin, director of the Institute for Forensic Medicine at the Ministry of Health.
The Sunnis turned against the US in Iraq due to Fallujah.
The US Department of Defense has now provided another measure of the problem it faces. Its latest opinion poll carried out in Iraq indicates that, among the five million Sunni Muslims there, about 75% now support the armed insurgency against the coalition.
This compares with 14% in the first opinion poll the Defense Department carried out back in 2003. It is a catastrophic loss of support, and there is no sign whatever that it can be effectively reversed.
The rise in hostility to the US forces is clearly linked to the onslaught against the town of Falluja in 2004.
This, we are told, was ordered directly by the White House and the Department of Defense after the bodies of four American defence contractors were hung from a bridge in April 2004.
Bush does not ride the clue train.
The shift of US forces into Baghdad has ceased to cut back on the killings. To celebrate the run-up to Muslim Ramadan the Islamic insurgents are killing more people in Baghdad.
"If you historically look at this time period just before and going into Ramadan, there has unfortunately been an increase in violence. That, in fact, is occurring within the city," said U.S. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the senior military spokesman in Iraq.
Pray together and then kill together.
SHIITE militias behind the sectarian killings in Baghdad are earning at least $US1 million ($1.3 million) a day through criminal enterprises, the US military believes.
The groups, which are accused of operating death squads to terrorise the city's Sunni population, are able to spend freely on weapons, pay salaries to the militiamen who carry out the killings and buy the loyalty of the Shiite population by funding social welfare programs.
The money came from "kidnappings, extortion, blackmarketeering and blackmail", Colonel Brown said.
The Mahdi Army control gasoline (petrol) stations and makes big money selling above the regulated price. Deregulating the price would cut back funding of militias.
Psychopharmaceuticals, by contrast, are in good supply. Tranquilizers and antidepressants feature on most prescriptions, even for patients with sprained joints. "A large portion of Baghdad's adult population is on tranquilizers. Valium and Lorazepam are the most common," he says. "We lie awake every night, with the same thought running through our minds: no matter how bad today was, tomorrow is sure to be worse."
The Iraqis can no longer turn to alcohol for distraction.
Six months after the American invasion, the last store to sell beer in Amiriya closed its doors. Selling alcohol is a mortal sin - as even the district's warring gangs of Shiites and Sunnis agree. Barbershops have disappeared as well, because cutting hair is considered the ultimate in secular depravity. Some barbers have tried their luck in the cell-phone market. But that, too, is a risky business. Cell phones can play music and music is "haram" - immoral and forbidden according to the militias' religious code.
The American people are on a slow learning curve with Iraq. I really wish they'd get on the clue train.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 September 22 11:14 PM MidEast Iraq Military Needs|