Tuesday, January 09, 2007

# Posted 4:23 PM by Taylor Owen  

ESSENTIAL PRE-SPEECH READING: Kaplan does the surge math and isn't convinced. Whole thing is worth a read. Money quote:

Then there are the more political considerations. Nothing will work, even under otherwise ideal circumstances, unless the Iraqi government supports the effort, orders Iraqi battalions to take part, and agrees to let the counterinsurgents go after all militias, including the Mahdi Army controlled by Muqtada Sadr, a key faction of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's power base. The Iraqi government would also have to devise some power-sharing arrangement—for instance, a formula to share oil revenues with Sunni regions—to deal with the causes of insurgency (or at least the causes of the insurgents' popular support or tolerance). While an area is being secured, the U.S. and other governments would also have to pour in massive funding for reconstruction projects, well beyond the $1 billion that President Bush is expected to request for urban job creation. In other words, a surge—even if it proves successful on its own terms—will mean nothing, in the medium to long term, unless it is part of a broader political and economic strategy. Does Bush have such a strategy in mind? We'll see on Wednesday. If he does, will the Iraqi government be willing or able to go along? We'll see in the next few months.

But security is the prerequisite, and to achieve enduring security, the hard arithmetic indicates that Bush needs to send in a lot more troops than 20,000. The problem is, he doesn't have them, and he won't be able to get them for many years, under the best of circumstances.
ht- JM, who concludes:

One of the ironies of the current situation is that in the early months of the occupation, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who's slated to take over in Iraq, was the general on the ground who all the sharpest people on military affairs thought was the one guy in charge over there who really understood what kind of a battle he was engaged in. In short, counter-insurgency, or rather, heading off an insurgency by prioritizing real reconstruction and hearts-and-minds work rather than kicking people's doors down.

He spent last year co-authoring the Army's new counterinsurgency field manual. But look at what the manual says. Counter-insurgency operations require at least 20 combat troops per 1000 people in a given area. And look closely. That's not just military personnel, but combat troops.

Kaplan runs through the numbers. But the key points are that you'd need 120,000 combat troops to mount real counter-insurgency operations just in Baghdad. We currently have 70,000 combat troops in the whole country. So concentrate all US combat personnel in Iraq into Baghdad. Then add 20,000 more 'surge' combat troops. That leaves you 30,000 short of the number the Army thinks you'd need just in Baghdad.

Needless to say, Iraq isn't just Baghdad. And if you know anything about how insurgencies work you know that if we actually had enough troops in Baghdad (remember, to even get in shooting distance of that you need to evacuate the rest of the country) the insurgents would just fan out and start literal or figurative fires where we're not.

What this all amounts to is that 20,000 or even 50,000 new combat troops don't even get you close to what the Army says you need to do what President Bush says he's now going to try to do. To get that many troops into the country you'd need to put this country on a serious war-footing and begin drawing troops down from deployments around the globe. All of which, just isn't going to happen, setting aside for the moment of what should happen. And that tells you this whole thing is just a joke at the expense of the American public and our troops on the ground in Iraq.

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Look fellas you win when you bring sufficient violence to the enemy that he quits. Violence = killed, wounded or otherwise disbled and incapable of completing a military assignment. I do not know the bad guys' breaking point, but it does exist and to win we must find it. End of sermon. David J.
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