Iraq Troop Buildup Idea Worries Generals

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  1. Iraq Troop Buildup Idea Worries Generals
    By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

    WASHINGTON - A White House laboring to find a new approach in Iraq said Tuesday it is considering sending more U.S. troops, an option that worries top generals because of its questionable payoff and potential backlash. President Bush said he is ready to boost the overall size of an American military overstretched by its efforts against worldwide terrorism.

    The military's caution on shipping thousands of additional troops temporarily to Iraq is based on a fear that the move could be ineffective without bold new political and economic steps.

    Commanders also worry that the already stretched Army and Marine Corps would be even thinner once the short-term surge ended. Bush's newly expressed interest in making the military larger would have little impact on that worry because it will take much longer to add substantially to the size of the military.

    Generals also question whether sending more troops to Iraq would feed a perception that the strife in Iraq is mainly a military problem; in their view it is largely political, fed by economic distress.

    Rep. Ike Skelton, the Missouri Democrat who will become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee next month, echoed those sentiments Tuesday. "I'm convinced the Army and the Marines are near the breaking point," Skelton said, while expressing skepticism that a big troop surge would be worth the trouble.

    With Iraq's burgeoning chaos leaving the Bush administration with few attractive choices, it is studying a possible short-term troop increase there. That proposal is the favorite option of some, including potential 2008 presidential contender Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and analysts at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which has strong ties to the administration.

    Even the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which advocated removing most combat troops by early 2008, said it could support a temporary increase if U.S. commanders believe it would be effective. Roughly one-third of the 140,000 American troops in Iraq are combat forces.

    Bush revealed his desire to increase the military's size worldwide in an interview with The Washington Post, days after the Army's top general, Peter Schoomaker, warned that the service would "break" without more troops.

    The president used no figures, but he said he has asked his new defense secretary, Robert Gates, to produce a plan for increasing the military's size.

    The Army announced on Tuesday evening that it will accelerate the planned creation of two additional combat brigades as a means of relieving some of the strain on troops caused by repeated and increasingly frequent deployments to Iraq. Both brigades will be ready to join the rotations to Iraq by next April, 11 months ahead of schedule in the case of one brigade while 17 months ahead for the other.

    In the latest indicator of the war's financial costs, White House budget chief Rob Portman told reporters Tuesday it was unlikely this year's price tag would be less than last year's $120 billion. Congress has already approved $70 billion toward this year's price tag, and Bush has long been expected to request an additional $100 billion or more in February.

    Donald H. Rumsfeld, who ran the Pentagon for the last six years, had long resisted calls to increase the size of the military, arguing that technological advances and organizational changes could give the Army and Marine Corps the extra capability it needed.

    Supporters of a surge of American forces in Iraq see it as a potentially decisive move to halt the upward spiral of sectarian killings in Baghdad, which U.S. commanders have identified as the central prize in the Iraq war. They see it as a way to buy precious time to get the Iraqis steadier on their feet.

    Yet a similar effort, announced with great fanfare last summer, had a dampening effect on violence in targeted Baghdad neighborhoods for a few weeks. As described in a Pentagon report sent to Congress on Monday, that effort, dubbed Operation Together Forward II, ultimately proved insufficient.

    One big drawback in that case was an inability of the Iraqi government to move sufficient Iraqi troops into those warring neighborhoods.

    "As the operation progressed, death squads adapted to the new security environment and resumed their activities in areas not initially targeted by" American and Iraqi troops, the report said. Shiite death squads even managed to "leverage support" from rogue elements in the Iraqi police, and the violence spiked again, the report said.

    The American Enterprise Institute issued a report last week recommending a surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments starting next spring. A contributor to that report was retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, who was the vice chief of staff at the time the Iraq war was launched in 2003.

    Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University, said Tuesday he believes the chances that adding 20,000 or so U.S. troops for several months would stabilize Baghdad are "slim and none."

    The White House on Tuesday denied a conflict between the administration and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while also offering the assurance that Bush agrees with the military chiefs that any boost in troop levels would be done out of military necessity.

    "The president has not made a decision on the way forward, and he has asked military commanders to consider a range of options and they are doing so," said Tony Snow, the White House press secretary. Bush is expected to announce his new Iraq approach in January after Gates visits Iraq.

    Gen. James Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, said Saturday that one option under consideration by the president is sending five or more additional combat brigades, which equates to roughly 20,000 or more troops. Conway did not say he opposes that proposal, but he emphasized the potential drawbacks.

    "We would fully support, I think, as the Joint Chiefs, the idea of putting more troops into Iraq if there is a solid military reason for doing that, if there is something to be gained," he said. "We do not believe that just adding numbers for the sake of adding numbers _ just thickening the mix _ is necessarily the way to go."

    The five or more extra brigades would, he said, be units already scheduled to go to Iraq in a later rotation. But he added that using those troops now would mean "a lesser capable" force in the future.

    "You better make sure your timing is right," he said. "Because if you commit the reserve for something other than a decisive win or to stave off defeat, then you have essentially shot your bolt."

    The Army's Schoomaker told reporters last week that a surge would make sense only under certain conditions.

    "We would not surge without a purpose," Schoomaker said. "And that purpose should be measurable."
  2. News 24 shows a recorded version of the ABC or the CBS (something like that anyway) news and last night they were suggesting that Bush is thinking of increasing the countries army and Marine Corps in order to beat the overstretch and wear and tear on major weapons.

    Bugger me - Bush has JUST made a speech saying the same
  3. Hmm shame Tony couldn't think of that as well.
  4. God. If ever there was an argument for a coup taking place in the US it's this.
  5. Quite
  6. At least the Army and Marines will see an increase in end strength. We need 575,000 to 600,000 which would be an increase of 60,000 - 85,000 troops. The additional combat units would require the Army to open a few moth balled installations. Lots of expense but it will reduce OPTEMPO.
  7. Looks like Dubya is coming around to this long overdue idea.

    This looks alot like a repudiation of Rummy who was all about cutting overall troop numbers for a so called "leaner meaner" war machine.

    In other news Gen Abizaid who has led the war effort since 2003 is heading out the door. He becomes one of the very few generals (after Tommy Franks who led the invansion) to leave his battlefront command while active combat is going on.

    This seems to confirm certain theories that SecDef Robert Gates wanted fresh ideas and fresh faces as a condition for accepting the job. There is a strong likely hood that the next few weeks will see an almost total reassignement of the Joint Chiefs.

  8. A number of things spring to mind here;

    1. This is a long range plan. It'll probably be 18 months- 2years at least before the new boys and girls will be in any kind of position to reduce operational tempo for the others.

    2. What is it going to take and how much is it going to cost to recruit and retain people and what class of person will they be getting? They've already dropped educational standards and taken a more "relaxed" view towards criminal records, drug abuse, gang affiliations etc. and they've raised the age limit to around 40 and lifted the signing bonuses and other financial incentives to almost silly levels and they're still only just making the current recruitment targets. What else can be done, short of creating an economic depression?

    3. It's the consensus opinion that the current forays are a hiding to nothing. To paraphrase T6's old mukka, John Kerry, who's going to join up to be the last man to die for a mistake?

    4. Anybody care to guess what programs are likely to be cut to fund this expansion? ;)

    5. Here's the most important thing from my point of view and the real reason behind why Bush is doing this. I think that this is an attempt to shift the blame for an already failed foreign policy onto the new Democratic-controlled Congress. They are the ones that would have to appropriate the funds for this new, larger force at a time when everybody is pushing for fiscal restraint and a reduction in the profligate government spending of the last 6 years. This can be seen as a political manouevre to put the Dems between a rock and a hard place. They either have to sign on to Bush's idea of war in perpetuity, something which they expressly campaigned against; or they have to run the risk of the Hawks accusing them of that old chestnut of failing to support the troops. In the longer game, it will allow conservative judges of history to say, as they did in Vietnam, that the war was ultimately lost because the Congress refused to support the military effort.

    He may be a complete retard when it comes to policy and decision-making, but the shaved chimp is a first rate political operative. Make no mistake about it.
  9. Would take say 2 years to Raise and Train these extra troops, by which time King George will be gone.
    UK can't do the same no money and dear leader promised the IRA to reduce their opposition as a viable fighting force.
    Georgei Boy NEEDS a Win or just what has he achived in two terms, apart from going from a full tresury to the biggest debt ever.
    He can't be planning a quick strike into Iran with the extra 30-40 thousand he's planning for Iraq. No, extra carrier on route but he had 5 for invasion of Iraq.
    Tone worries me, Georgei Boy frightens me.
  10. We dont need carriers as we have sufficient airbases in the region and the bombers will come from Diego Garcia and CONUS. Carriers will be a big target in any armed conflict with the Iranians.

    Ahmadinejad 's faction lost in the recent elections which either may cause him some problems in the future.
  11. That statement is more or less unprecedented on an American News channel isn't it?
  12. This is the one that struck me:

    . . . what is Dubya expecting, one wonders - "The Lord Will Provide" perhaps??
  13. Let me say that this is a very eye-opening clip. Scarbourough is/has been one of the most ardent supporters of Dubya and this turnaround is shocking to say the least. I couldn't turn on the guy on TV withoout thinking " oh God, another cheerleader."

    To say that Dubya is delusional is an understatement. He is paranoid, intellectually unsolid and as far removed from reality as a toddler with high fever.

    I would give a year of my life if I woke up tomorrow and it was 2008.
  14. How about getting all those Fat F*cks from the huge mini-USA bases to start patrolling before bringing in more troops? If we bring in 10,000 additional troops, will only 3,400 be infantrymen? When the Iraq Study Group didn't even mention this issue in their report, I realized they hadn't really listened to any troops on the ground. All this crap's just political posturing. No one has the guts to make real changes. There'll still be plenty of elephants in the room when the last helicopter takes off from Baghdad embassy.