2006 September 22 Friday
US Military Too Small For Iraq

The US military is overstretched in Iraq.

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.

All Italian troops have left Iraq.

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.

Even the Brits are cutting down.

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".

One expert thinks the rate of torture in Iraq is now higher than it was under Saddam Hussein.

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.

Most bodies brought to the Baghdad morgue show signs of torture.

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.

The Shiite side of the civil war is being funded by crime revenues that are about 4 times what the Iranians give Hezbollah every year.

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.

The Iraqis have responded by going on drugs.

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


Comments
Wolf-Dog said at September 22, 2006 11:58 PM:

It seems that it is in the interest of Iran to keep the US Army in Iraq, as hostage. Iran wants the US to get exhausted but stuck in Iraq. If the US pulls back to hidden bases in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, or in the South of Iraq, and simply partitions Iraq, the US Army will no longer be a hostage to attrition war from Iran.

But if the US totally abandons Iraq, then it will appear as if the US was defeated like in Viet Nam. This will almost certainly make it possible for Iran to gain total control of Saudi Arabian oil.

ALL of this is because the oil companies made sure that we do not have independent alternative energy. We need an energy Manhattan Project immediately, with $150 billion per year.

John S Bolton said at September 23, 2006 1:31 AM:

An even cheaper energy policy would be to override local and other regulations on offshore drilling.
Eliminate restrictions on the burning of low-quality fuels.
Endless war is not better than dirty air, or scenery-value losses for short-sighted retirees who put millions into a beach property with nothing but sand under them.
They refuse to consider the future, so others must decide for them.
US military too small?
How is it that the millions in the armed forces can't be available in time of war?
It wouldn't be that the government is, most traitorously, running a gigantic alternative welfare boondoggle
for disadvantaged minorities in the military would it?
This scam could be about to crack wide open; the government is using national guard units because they're white men, who can't use the military as an alternative welfare project the way the minorities can.
The government has quotas for disadvantaged minority officers promotions, sometimes amounting to half the total available, with considerations of merit no object.
Then it turns out such officers don't want to go to Iraq, and the government fears to lose them, because then their quota regime would be set back quite a ways.
This war is showing the unspeakable weaknesses of the racialized alternative welfare society, in all its traitorous indulgences.
Trial balloons, including even crying generals, are being sent up to see if the public would let them put illegals from hostile countries to the south into the military in large numbers.
How about America first?

Stephen said at September 23, 2006 8:44 PM:

Wolf-Dog said: ALL of this is because the oil companies made sure that we do not have independent alternative energy.

I've never bought the conspiracy argument - for that to work you'd have to assume that the oil companies are the only sources of development capital. In reality there's plenty of other sources of capital that aren't beholden to the oil industry - the world's quite a rich place.

Stephen said at September 23, 2006 9:06 PM:

Wolf-Dog said: ALL of this is because the oil companies made sure that we do not have independent alternative energy.

I've never bought the conspiracy argument - for that to work you'd have to assume that the oil companies are the only sources of development capital. In reality there's plenty of other sources of capital that aren't beholden to the oil industry and would love to develop something that would get them a chunk of those oil industry profits.


We need an energy Manhattan Project immediately, with $150 billion per year.

The Manhattan Project was set up to build one specific thing (a fission bomb), but what is it exactly that your new Manhattan Project would be building?? Its not sufficient to merely give a truck load of cash to some random person and say, "We'll keep giving you this money every year until you develop something, we don't know what, but something or other."

Wolf-Dog said at September 24, 2006 12:20 AM:

"The Manhattan Project was set up to build one specific thing (a fission bomb), but what is it exactly that your new Manhattan Project would be building?? Its not sufficient to merely give a truck load of cash to some random person and say, "We'll keep giving you this money every year until you develop something, we don't know what, but something or other." "
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The feasible possibilities are not a pie in the sky (unless these are the false promises of the oil-rich presidents who intentionally talk about hydrogen energy in order to make sure that the oil remains the only realistic alternative for 100 years). We truly have realistic possibilities, such as nuclear power, burning switchgrass based biomass (which has an energy input-output efficiency of 14 to 1 if you use it to generate electricity directly from burning in a power plant instead of turning it into ethanol), photovoltaics (which already have efficiency over 10-15 %, only the price must be lowered for mass production), better lithium batteries (whose energy density has just been doubled, and this will soon be in mass production in a few years, increasing the range of electric cars to 500 miles per charge).

It turns out that if you cover your roof with photovoltaic panels, this can generate enough energy to add to the power grid (for credit) during the day, for the night charging of an electric car to add some 50 miles of electricity to the battery from this credit, meaning that if every house had such roofs, most people would not need to pay the power company to charge their cars, since most people do not drive more than 50 miles per day.

So this is not automatically an arbitrary Manhattan project for pork barrel projects (although it can be if Bush directs that project).


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