Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

28 February, 2007

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

According to the Guardian, advisors to the current military command in Baghdad are giving the United States one more Friedman to get it right in Iraq:
An elite team of officers advising US commander General David Petraeus in Baghdad has concluded the US has six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.

The obvious question that comes to my mind is, "What does 'win the war' actually mean?" Seeing as how are rationale for invading Iraq in the first place changes with the weather, I'm hard-pressed to visualize what "victory" might look like.

More damning, however:
Their biggest headache was insufficient numbers of troops on the ground despite the increase ordered by Mr Bush, the former official said. "We don't have the numbers for the counter-insurgency job even with the surge. The word 'surge' is a misnomer. Strategically, tactically, it's not a surge," an American officer said.

According to the US military's revised counter-insurgency field manual, FM 3-24, authored by Gen Petraeus, the optimum "troop-to-task" ratio for Baghdad requires 120,000 US and allied troops in the city alone. Current totals, even including often unreliable Iraqi units, fall short of that number. The deficit is even greater in conflict areas outside Baghdad.

"Additional troops are essential if we are to win," said Lt-Col John Nagel, another Petraeus confidant and co-author of the manual, in an address at the US Naval Institute in San Diego last month. One soldier for every 50 civilians in the most intense conflict areas was key to successful counter-insurgency work. Compounding the manpower problems is an apparently insurmountable shortage of civilian volunteers from the Pentagon, state department and treasury. They are needed to staff the additional provincial reconstruction teams and other aid projects promised by Mr Bush.

Let's remember: this is coming from the "commanders on the ground" on whose recommendations Bush is supposedly basing his strategy. I find it hard to believe that Bush was unaware that 20,000 additional troops would be an inadequate number before announcing the plan. In other words, more blood, more money, same result.

Criminal incompetence.

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