Jun 9, 2007

Questionable Prioritization and Unreasonable Expectations

Close on the heels of the fine critique immediately below, yet more evidence that the "surge" is not only ineffective, it is counterproductive to the stated U.S. mission.

Under the plans put forward last fall, (rapidly training up the Iraqi Army to take over security) meant quadrupling the number of U.S. training teams. Why was such an increase necessary? Last fall, the military brass were moving toward a consensus that to be really effective, U.S. training teams needed to operate down at the company level, not just embedded within a battalion (which is made of three companies). That meant as many as 20,000 to 30,000 additional U.S. advisers would be required, up from the 5,000 or so then being budgeted.

But to do that effectively, U.S. combat brigades needed to be shifted out of Iraq so their officer corps could be turned into trainers. And under the surge, that's not happening either. To do so, it would mean "a fairly significant change to the [U.S.] force laydown in Iraq," Maj Gen. Carter Ham, the commandant at Fort Riley, the U.S. Army's adviser-training center, told me. The big trade-off of the surge that few people are taking note of -- what it really has cost us -- is that it is taking precious time away from the program to bring the Iraqi Army to readiness. The surge is therefore ensuring that U.S. troops will have to remain longer on the front lines of an intractable sectarian war.

Not that any Iraqi Army -- or Iraqi Government for that matter -- will satisfactorily facilitate U.S. interests in Iraq and the broader region.

Hence, the plans for a permanent U.S. troop presence in that beleaguered nation.

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