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11/19/2004

Troop Levels

The Christian Science Monitor has the most recent details on the plans to increase troop levels in the run-up to the Iraqi elections. The plan is still to keep as many as 20,000-30,000 troops currently deployed in Iraq after school to create an overlap window. The need for more troops is clearer than ever, as Iraqi security forces have been infiltrated and intimidated to the point that they are as much a risk to American forces as a help. Whenever you read or hear about Americans working with Iraqi forces, it is almost invariably the case that the Iraqis are Kurdish peshmerga.

The assault on Fallujah has also managed to disseminate insurgents throughout the country - we've "smoked 'em out," I guess, and now we have to "hunt 'em down." (Though it looks like Zarqawi "divided his time mainly between Baghdad and Ramadi"...) Unfortunately, we're hunting too many foxes with too few dogs.

The overlap strategy is self-defeating. The more we use it, the longer the recovery times between redeployment, and the lower troop levels get. If the Bush-Rumsfeld team had the potential for foresight, I would assume that they intend to declare victory in June or so, and then seriously draw down troop levels (to get ready for the August 2006 Iran invasion). Given that they always fuck up, even when choosing the wrong option, they will probably continue to yo-yo our troops back and forth, just enough to ensure that we don't have numbers to stabilize the country, while still ruining morale, readiness, and lives.

Update 11/20/04, 1:42 AM EST: Thursday's NYT noted a "classified report prepared by intelligence officers in the First Marine Expeditionary Force" that "warn[ed] that if American troop levels in the Falluja area are significantly reduced during reconstruction there, as has been planned, insurgents in the region will rebound from their defeat. The rebels could thwart the retraining of Iraqi security forces, intimidate the local population and derail elections set for January, the officers say."

Update 11/20/04 3:29 AM EST: The BBC says that US decisions on troop levels will depend on the security situation in Fallujah.

 

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