Sunday, August 19, 2007

Just the right number of troops in Iraq

It's strange how, these days, everyone realizes that the Iraq war is stretching the military to the breaking point.

After all it wasn't very long ago that senior administration officials were telling us that we had millions of troops to draw upon.

Condoleeza Rice, September 2005:
SECRETARY RICE: There were, I think as of today, more than 70,000 forces in the Louisiana area. So we have an active and reserve and guard force of 2.5 million people; 139,000 people are in Iraq. So this is just not an argument that holds water. What is the question is how we better coordinate and decide when federal resources of this magnitude are going to be brought to bear.

Donald Rumsfeld, January 2006:
"And there isn't any reason in the world why we shouldn't be able to maintain, with an active and reserve total force ... of over 2 million people, why we shouldn't be able to maintain 138,000" troops in Iraq, he said.

We didn't send 150,000 Americans to Iraq because that's all we had. We sent 150,000 Americans to Iraq because that was the perfect number. This was the operative argument right up until the elections last November.

Rumsfeld again
, January 2005:
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, there’s of course a debate going on in our country as to whether or not the number of troops is the right number...

The one place there is not a varying opinion on that is among the general officers who are responsible for providing the U.S. military effort in Iraq. ... everyone of them believes that the goal is not to increase the number of troops because then we’d look more and more like an occupying force. We have more and more people that could be attacked. It takes more and more force protection people, more and more logistics support people. And their unanimous recommendation to the president and to me has been that what we want to do is to have right about this – we went from about 140,000 up to 153,000 during this election period, after the election bring down that number and work with the coalition over the period ahead to adjust the force levels downward towards whatever the security situation may or may not require.

From the Heritage Foundation, July 2006:
In Vietnam, the United States employed a flawed strategy referred to as “graduated pressure.” The idea behind this was that increasing levels of military force, applied incrementally, could ultimately push the North Vietnamese to some abstract breaking point, achieving victory for the U.S. and South Viet­nam. The strategy focused on mini­mizing costs rather than winning the war, relied on faulty assumptions about the enemy’s psychology, and, most of all, offered no real solutions about how to defeat the Communists other than essentially throwing more troops at the problem.

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