The idea, dubbed the “surge option” by some officials, would involve increasing American forces by 20,000 troops or more for several months in the hope of improving security, especially in Baghdad. That would mark a sharp rise over the current baseline of 144,000 troops.
It looks like Pentagon planners are listening to John McCain now. Funny how they'd suggest sending another 20,000 troops to Iraq a month or so after McCain suggested it. Funny too that the Pentagon would leak news of the "surge option" the week after McCain ran a cheese grater across General John Abizaid's five o'clock shadow at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings.
Whatever is really going on between McCain and the Pentagon, it's high time we quit coming up with snappy sounding names for new strategies that don't look a whole lot different from the ones they replace. Let's pick a title and stick with it.
I recommend "grabbing at straws" (GAS).
Faith Based Strategy
The latest talk of "change" to the Iraq strategy sounds like the same old GAS we've been hearing for three years.
Not everyone is sold on the surge option. Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, told Congress last week that the land services were stretched so thin that a troop increase could not be sustained for an appreciable period of time. And no one seems at all confident that a temporary surge in troop strength would do any good.
Everybody seems to agree it’s a good idea to increase the number of U.S. troops specifically assigned to train Iraqi Army, police and border guard units. But, according to Thomas E. Ricks of the Washington Post, the Iraqi training program has already taken a Humpty Dumpty spill off the wall.
The U.S. military's effort to train Iraqi forces has been rife with problems, from officers being sent in with poor preparation to a lack of basic necessities such as interpreters and office materials, according to internal Army documents…
…In dozens of official interviews compiled by the Army for its oral history archives, officers who had been involved in training and advising Iraqis bluntly criticized almost every aspect of the effort.
Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-California) prefers a strategy that will redeploy Iraqi units from relatively calm areas of the country to hot spots like Baghdad. That kind of thinking on Hunter's part should make us all grateful that Hunter is losing his job as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). As Tom Ricks and other Pentagon correspondents have been telling us for years, large numbers of Iraqi Army troops have consistently balked at fighting other Iraqis. They refused to fight in Fallujah, they refused to fight in Ramadi, they refused to fight in Baghdad. Nobody wants to make Iraqi soldiers fight if they don't want to because they might desert, and drift into private militias, further compounding the security situation.
And Hunter wants to order more Iraqi troops into areas they've already refused to fight in? Thank God and Greyhound he's gone from the HASC chairmanship.
Help From the Periphery
Iran and Syria have offered to help stabilize the Iraq situation. Cooperation from these two Muslim countries that border Iraq is essential to establishing long term stability in the Gulf region, but enlisting their help will require competent diplomacy, and don't expect any of that from the Bush administration. "Doctor Ditz" Condi Rice, Secretary of State, was never anything more that young Mister Bush's history and geography tutor. And UN Ambassador John Bolton is a Dick Cheney acolyte: a rightwing jerk and a bull feather artist committed to proving the neoconservative agenda's prime directive that "diplomacy doesn't work."
So despite the Democratic victories in the recent congressional elections, expect more of the same old GAS from the neoconservative executive branch: a continued march down the path of never ending war.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.