Sunday, May 29, 2005

"Basically, we've got all the toys, but not enough boys." -- Major Mark Lister, a senior Marine air officer.
With each new day comes reports of more insurgent attacks and X number of more dead as a result. And it's becoming more frequent to read quotes and statements -- often by military personnel -- about a lack of troops.

It's widely known that recruitment goals have fallen far short and many soldiers are being kept on long after their agreed-upon time served. However, the fact remains that Rumsfeld's original assessment on the number of troops needed to properly handle Iraq has been a tragic screw-up of enormous magnitude. The lack of soldiers is killing soldiers, making those stationed in that country that much more vulnerable due to a lack of supportive and reinforcing manpower. Recall, as I wrote last year, that the respected Rand Corp. estimated that Iraq would need about 500,000 soldiers to properly stabilize the country -- far more than the 130,000 sent there.

Have you ever seen police shows where they need to get through a locked door and they often have what looks like many more officers than necessary as they ram through the entrance and quickly scatter throughout the inside rooms? Most often no one is harmed as they overrun the place with an overwhelming personnel presence.

Among others, this same truism is what's behind the Rand study. To attempt to secure any place "on the cheap" most often doesn't work, and worse yet results in more fatalities than would've occurred with a great show of force in personnel (NOT bombs).

In the next several years, there will be tons critically written about this war (hopefully, a fair share focusing on matters like the Downing Street Memo), and my guess is this matter of troop deployment (via Rummy) will become a common target for blame, and rightly so. And if one ignorantly asserts, "well, we could never dedicate a half million troops to the effort!" which may be very true, but the point is one then must reconsider the entire operation and associated thought process. The fact that we have a finite number of troops is a big reason why the neocon hawks are curtailed in their global ambitions (i.e. limitation can be good).

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. I wrote the above entry early yesterday morning only to discover this morning that Paul Krugman chose the same topic for his column. As usual, he makes several good points.

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