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Thread: Iraq: Why We Can't Send More Troops

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Iraq: Why We Can't Send More Troops

    14 September Washington Post commentary - Why We Can't Send More Troops by Lawrence J. Korb and Peter Ogden.

    In "Reinforce Baghdad" [op-ed, Sept. 12], William Kristol and Rich Lowry argue that the United States needs to deploy "substantially" more troops to Iraq to stabilize the country. Aside from the strategic dubiousness of their proposal -- Kristol and Lowry's piece might alternatively have been titled "Reinforcing Failure" -- there is a practical obstacle to it that they overlook: Sending more troops to Iraq would, at the moment, threaten to break our nation's all-volunteer Army and undermine our national security. This is not a risk our country can afford to take.

    In their search for additional troops and equipment for Iraq, the first place that Kristol and Lowry would have to look is the active Army. But even at existing deployment levels, the signs of strain on the active Army are evident. In July an official report revealed that two-thirds of the active U.S. Army was classified as "not ready for combat." When one combines this news with the fact that roughly one-third of the active Army is deployed (and thus presumably ready for combat), the math is simple but the answer alarming: The active Army has close to zero combat-ready brigades in reserve...

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default Hire up more Blackwater guys

    Maybe they can lighten some of the load.

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    Default More Boots On The Ground?

    15 September Washington Times commentary - More Boots On The Ground? by Linda Chavez.

    We're on the verge of losing the war in Iraq, and no amount of spin can change the outcome. Yet the administration continues to balk at doing the one thing that could make a difference: namely, putting more U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq to bring a measure of order and security to a nation incurring some 3,000 civilian casualties each month.

    This week, two prominent conservatives, representing different wings of the conservative movement, co-authored an op-ed in The Washington Post urging the administration to do just that. William Kristol, the neoconservative editor of the Weekly Standard, and Rich Lowry, editor of the old-line conservative National Review, call for the president to "order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq, with the additional forces focused on securing Baghdad."

    As Mr. Kristol and Mr. Lowry note, "[w]here more U.S. troops have been deployed, the situation has gotten better. Those neighborhoods intensively patrolled by Americans are safer and more secure." But to date, the Defense Department has merely moved U.S. troops around Iraq, sending forces to secure an area and then turning it over to Iraqis. In Fallujah and elsewhere, this has proved costly because Iraqis aren't yet up to the task of holding the territory Americans gain.

    It's not enough to move a finite number of American troops around from one hot spot to another. What we need is more boots on the ground. If we had twice the number of troops when we first entered Iraq, we might not be fighting there today.

    There is no doubt such a strategy would be politically risky, but there is also little question it would significantly improve our chances of success on the battlefield. Democrats, whose only answer is to criticize the president for going into Iraq in the first place, can't wait to pull out all American troops, regardless of the consequences. And the administration has responded by tacitly accepting the premise we need to get our troops out as quickly as possible, while promoting the fiction that soon, very soon, the Iraqis will be able to fend for themselves, at which point we can honorably leave...

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default It's a shame some pundits get an audience

    It's not enough to move a finite number of American troops around from one hot spot to another. What we need is more boots on the ground. If we had twice the number of troops when we first entered Iraq, we might not be fighting there today.
    This is not necessarily the answer, as most of us who have been on the ground know. Shoving more "troops" into Iraq will increase footprint, but not necessarily in the right way. We will have significantly more support troops whose sole existance is FOB dwelling and dashing between AOs on CSS convoys. Most serious observers understand that we need to spread out more, get out of the FOBs, live,sleep, and eat among the people, and saturate the high threat areas...while engaging the people, the center of gravity.

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    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    And for if the troops are to live among the populace, we need to ramp up language and cultural immersion training too. The signs are there that we are moving in that direction in training (basing NTC scenarios on best practices from theater instead of combined arms, "full spectrum ops" doctrine for example), but we aren't there yet.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

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    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    At present the Army is compelled to offer promotions to an unprecedented number of its personnel to retain them. Some 98 percent of captains were promoted to major this year, and the quality of the next generation of military leaders will suffer if this process is not made more selective once again.

    This isn't the whole story behind promotion rates. This unprecedented promotion rate is more due to the fact that we have almost more major jobs to fill than majors to fill them. Modularity increased 04 billets in unit MTOEs, "right-sizing" of officer accessions in the early 1990s in anticiaption of force restructuring in the wake of a never realized peace dividend made the officer year groups now being considered for promotion to major smaller, and these year groups are even smaller due to a spike in company grade attrition that pre-dates 9/11 (a consequence of a much talked about generation gap between junior and senior officers that received a lot of attention between 1999-2001).

    The article has a lot of merit, but I don't think that portraying promotions as bribes for sticking around advances the discussion much. The bigger question, IMO, is do we need that many field grade officers to begin with?
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CR6 View Post

    The article has a lot of merit, but I don't think that portraying promotions as bribes for sticking around advances the discussion much. The bigger question, IMO, is do we need that many field grade officers to begin with?
    The book answer is that with the new MTOEs there are a lot more billets for field grade officers. Practical thinking will tell you that bigger isn't always better, especially in this setting.

    I have not seen as many BZ promotions to major as I did on this last list. Now, having said that, many of the guys I knew that came out BZ on this list were sterling performers as troop, company, and battery commanders. There are always those guys on any list where you ask "how the hell did he get on here?!"

    I agree with CR6; promotions are not being given as a carrot to stay in right now. That's my biggest complaint with this article.

  8. #8
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    I hear you about the new MTOEs calling for more majors brother. My question is "do the new modular units NEED that many majors?" Are these jobs that any competent captain can do, or do they require a guy who has more experience, PME and seasoning?
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

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