Friday, January 12, 2007

The train wreck..........

The one that is coming to an armed service near and dear to you.

I have tried and tried to come up with some coherent line of thought about the Presidents speech-I can't. To tell the truth, I don't think he can either. All he knows that in his mind, staying equates to winning, leaving equates to losing. Does not matter if the people we are staying for, are worth staying for ( spoiler alert: they are not), however he will be able to go into the history books as the guy who did not lose Iraq on his watch.

Hugh Hewitt likes it which is enough reason for me to be scared. All of the other usual suspects either like it or hate the President's new plan. There are plenty of places one can read reasoned analysis, here, here and here.

My primary concern in my little world is the mechanics of the plan's execution-and the cost that will be paid-in lives, in resources, in lost opportunity elsewhere, and in terms of the long term affect on an institution that I have spent a long time serving.

By settling on 21,000, Bush is looking to the art of the possible. Without a reduction of commitment elsewhere, and /or a full time, long term, mobilization of the reserves and Guard- keeping about 160,000 troops in Iraq is about the most the armed forces can do over the long haul. Now assuming the Army gets 65,000 more Soldiers and the Marine Corps gets another 27,000 over the coming few years the demands may get more palatable. Personally, I don't think the Army will grow to where it needs to be, neither will the Marine Corps. That's just the bait to go along with this particular bait and switch argument. Bush has to come up with the money to pay for those troops and over the last 6 years their track record on doing that is less than spectacular. My buddy Dr Chu will come up with argument after argument that we cannot afford them. Even if they do increase end strength, the other services will get schwacked to pay for it-which is not what's needed. Especially since he is not going to be doing anything to increase federal revenue coming in the door. Bush likes tax cuts more than he likes Iraq-and for some strange reason he really likes Iraq. I know I don't. I hate the Iraqi people-sight unseen. They have, however, proven that no matter how low one sets expectations for Arabs-they cannot meet them.

Today the Pentagon announced the "who do you screw" list to pull off the "surge". Here it is:

The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., and currently assigned as the call forward force in Kuwait, will move into Iraq and assume a security mission there.

The 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, will be extended in its current mission for up to 125 days and will redeploy not later than August 2007.

The 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Ft. Riley, Kan., will deploy in February 2007 as previously announced.

Three other Army combat brigades will deploy as follows:

- The 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Benning, Ga., will deploy in March 2007.

- The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Lewis, Wash., will deploy in April 2007.

- The 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Stewart, Ga., will deploy in May 2007.

The Marine Corps will extend two reinforced infantry battalions for approximately 60 days. Additionally, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) will remain in Iraq for approximately 45 additional days.

Other combat-support and combat-service-support units may also be deployed as necessary once new requirements are assessed.
(We'll come back to this point-Skippy-san).

Finally, the USS Stennis Carrier Strike Group and the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Regiment will deploy to the region to bolster security.

The key point about this whole thing is what has NOT been announced. First, lets look at that "combat support" paragraph above. One can expect a whole host of Requests for Forces as the ramifications of getting the units there are announced. That will be personnel deployed to Iraq over and above the 21,000. I'm also assuming the Stennis battle group is over and above the 21,000-however their deployment was already announced. There will be a ripple effect as commitments they were supposed to meet elsewhere have to be met.

There is also a "downstream affect" as the units listed above have to be replaced and other units have to be worked into a bigger and better rotation scheme.

So when its all said and done it will be closer to 100,000 US troops who will have their lives disrupted to because the Iraqis still cannot get their collective stuff together as a nation and as a people. Thanks guys-thanks a lot!

I wish I could get excited about this as a plan for victory. However, I cannot. Here is why:

1) It' s too dependent on the Iraqis. I personally believe that most of Malaki's rhetoric against the Shia militia is intended for US consumption, not Al Sadr consumption. If anything, I agree with those who believe that Malaki owes too much to the various Shias and so the only thing he is really asking them to do is lay low. If the Americans push attacks on the Shias as they must, the Iraqis will find a way to fuck it up slow it down.

2) It does not really change the dynamic of conflict. Maybe it will make some difference in the Baghdad security situation, but the insurgents have shown an interesting abilty to flex to other locations. Plus as I noted above, they can blend into the population and recconoiter how this plays out.

3)The jury is out on whether the empahsis on reconstruction will make any difference. Its been 4 years and we still have not built what we promised. It does provide a good future for all the investors in Halliburton stock though. Probably time to buy some.

4) Finally, I agree with Olberman, when it comes to Iraq, Bush has no credibilty anymore. He's said so much, so many times, and so much of it is contradictory that he really has nothing left that can be believed. Now that may make me a wingnut, but I've been thrown out of better bars than that one, so I can live with it. Still makes it true, Bush's remarks have to be examined against the context of the past things he has said.

However Bush does not really have to worry about that any more. By this course of action he has agreed to keep going in Iraq until the end of Presidency. His successor will inherit the war, and have to figure out a way out. That's what Bush really accomplished last night. After all, an action passed is still an action taken-right?


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