Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Business as usual

One of the more interesting things about living over here is the time difference. Sundays here are Saturdays in the states, thus I have to watch most major sporting events in the middle of the night or in the morning. It also means I get to watch the Sunday news programs on Sunday evening or see them repeated on Monday morning, if one can even get them at all. This week I was able to watch "Meet the Press" , however.

I like Tim Russert, although I realize there are those who do not, or think that he has a liberal agenda. Me, I think his questions are usually on the mark and generally can make his guests squirm in their seats a little. This week, as expected, the topic du jour was the war. He had Joe Biden and John Warner on the program discussing the "exit strategy". Biden was not exactly Mr. Positive

MR. RUSSERT: Let me start the conversation with Senator Biden. By some comments you made at the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday--here it is: "I do think that many [Democrats] have reached a conclusion, as many of my Republican colleagues, that this is lost." Is that the view in the Senate, the war is lost?
SEN. BIDEN: Well, I think there's a number of people that think it is. I do not think it is. I think we have a six-month window here to get it
right. But I have to admit that I think its chances are not a lot better than 50:50, and it requires a real change in course along the lines that--Senator Warner laid out an amendment; got 79 votes in the United States Senate. I think if the president follows that prescription, we got an even shot to make this a success.

John Warner got the thankless job of defending the President:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Warner, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, do you believe we can continue to have 150,000 troops in Iraq over the next two years?

SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R-VA): I certainly do, but more importantly, yesterday, Joe, I took your article, which I've got right here, and I went over it with Pete Pace word by word--chairman of the Joint Chiefs. And he said, "That's inaccurate, that assumption." He said,"We can do it. And we will do it." We've got estimates, if we--the ground condition's justified, as the president said, to pull down. We've got an option to increase the forces. Now, we will go from 158,000 to around 138,000 shortly after the elections, assuming the ground situation covers it. But my good friend
here and I differ strongly. This article is entitled "Timetable." We should not be establishing any timetable with regard to our withdrawal.

Yes sir, Senator, it can be sustained by robbing the other services blind and by bullying the other services to giving up manpower for Iraq that it has no business giving up. That's consistent with the Rumsfeld line:

SEN. WARNER: Joe, when I talked to Pace yesterday, he said one of the means with which we're going to maintain those force levels is what we call cross-training, taking certain segments of the Army and retraining them in 30 to 60 days to perform the basic fighting we see against the insurgents, take elements of the Guard, which might take a little longer. You know, artillery men can become infantry men, artillery men can become policemen.

SEN. BIDEN: Fundamental change.

No, well, it may be a fundamental change. We certainly did it in World War II. We did it...

Actually Sen. Warner, we did not. What the US did then however was make full use of the manpower that the country could generate, by putting the country on a wartime footing and fielding a large Army. What we are doing here has another name: "Robbing Peter to pay Paul". The USAF and Navy are being forced to each give up about 10,000 people to the war at the same time they are reducing force structure by 1/4.

Regardless of the outcome of the political discussion on whether to withdraw or not, I am tired of hearing that the services can do it all with less people and assets. If this really is a global war on terror then those Navy people being shoveled into Iraq are depriving some one else of trained personnel to do other missions. Especially since the US Military is doing about 4-5 wars, not just one. Lets look at the list:

1) Iraq
2) Afghanistan
3) Horn of Africa
4) Security assistance and interdiction in PI and Southeast Asia
5) And oh yes, along the way deter China and North Korea from starting a war.
6) Anything left can be used to actually defend the US

That's a pretty full plate, especially for a Navy that is less than 300 ships. Not to worry though. Thanks to FRP we can just keep turning them and the people around and keep sending them back out. Retention is high isn't it? That means their motivated. They don't need stability in their lives or time with their families. They don't need to complete other things such as education. Just keep walking up the brow.........because we can't afford to size the armed forces for the real scale of the effort. "People are expensive".

Yea they are expensive, because they are worth investing in.

So here is my heartfelt wish. Stop trying to do it all with less people and assets. If this is a priority to win in Iraq, stop mortgaging the rest of the house to do it. Shut up and pay the bill Mr Rumsfeld.....and Mr Biden and Mr. Warner. That would be a real national service..........


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