Saturday, September 10, 2005

Meanwhile, Back in Baghdad...

From The New York Times:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Saturday, Sept. 10 - The private security company that guards Baghdad International Airport shut down the airport on Friday, saying it had not been paid for the past six months. But the company, Global Strategies Group, announced early Saturday that it had agreed to reopen the airport on Saturday morning after a promise by the Iraqi government to pay half the amount owed.

The shutdown on Friday nearly led to a standoff between American military forces and Iraqi soldiers when United States forces rushed to the airport to prevent Iraqi troops from taking it over, according to Iraqi officials and the security company.

What in the wide world of sports is going on over there?


The NYT editorial board and others have argued that Katrina illustrates the need to keep the National Guard at home, and call for expanding the regular Army to support overseas deployments.

I say making a larger regular Army is a bad idea. We only need a bigger Army if we want to fight more invade and occupy wars like Iraq. And if we've learned anything from the war in Iraq, it's that we don't want to fight wars like that any more. But if we build an Army designed to fight wars like Iraq, guess what kind of wars we'll fight in the future.


The present mix of regular, reserve, and guard forces was specifically designed to avoid another Vietnam. In that conflict, Lyndon Johnson expanded the Army through the draft, and kept the guard at home to maintain an illusion of "normalcy" in the great society.

After Vietnam, congress restructured the Army so that the bulk of combat support (cooks, doctors, truck drivers, etc.) would reside in the Guard. Presidents could no longer commit the nation to major prolonged conflicts and "hide" them from the American pubic.

Making an Army capable of major sustained deployments without the guard would, in essence, give that sort of power back to the president.

I don't think we want that.


As for sending significantly larger numbers of troops to Iraq now:

The Army's tooth-to-tail ratio is something like one to seven. That means that for every "trigger puller" we put in theater, we need to send along seven cooks/doctors/truck drivers/etc. In a war with no clear forward lines and rear areas, much if not all of that one trigger puller's efforts will center on protecting the seven folks we sent to support him.

So no, even if we had the extra troops to spare, I don't think an increased presence at this point will do much good.


Time for this one to take a break and go for a visit in the "real world." Have a great weekend.


  1. Anonymous10:48 AM

    I read this morning that Global Strategies made this announcement, immediately followed, apparently by an announcement by someone in the Iraqi governemtn who said, effectively, "Good. It's our airport, anyway. We should be in charge of the security."

    The US apparently immediately sent troops to occupy, I mean guard the airport. I guess that if a wheel falls off somewhere, the political appointees over there will need a safer exit strategy than entrusting their own skins to "native" troops.

    Clear recollections of watching helicopters flying off the roof of the US Embassy in 1975.....


  2. Sounds to me like it's a zoo over there.

  3. Although I haven't been reading about Iraq, I have caught the headlines about Tal Afar and Qaim. Jesus Christ, al Qaeda took control of Qaim? They're in their last throes so they're taking and holding cities?

  4. Thanks for the reminder about support requirements. Sometimes we forget about the need to feed, house and transport the action guys and gals.

  5. Yes, TL. Last throes.


    We used to say the Army marches on its stomach, the Navy floats on a sea of paperwork.

  6. Basiclly this airport incident seems to make clear that the 'hand-over of power', the 'election' and the 'constitution' really don't mean much. I thought the same as anonymous - that the airport has become tacticly important in it's facility as a point of retreat more then as a point for resupply.