Saturday, December 16, 2006

Surgin' Generals

It didn't take long for the Pentagon to ramp up its consideration for a "surge" in troops after the ISG report suggested that a short term bump in numbers might help quell the violence there. It is probably the only recommendation that soothed the agitated heads in the White House and the Pentagon. the problem for the so-called "military planners" -- apart from an apparent inability to plan -- is that they will likely have a difficult time finding these extra troops. Numbers are ranging from 15,000 to 50,000, though the upper part of that range seems extremely unlikely, despite the fact, that when the Pentagon likes to dump gasoline on a fire, it usually likes to dump a whole lot. But they are constrained by their own poor planning to date. Soldiers are stressed, have suffered multiple deployments and stop-loss orders, while many are already wondering what the hell they're doing there anymore.

It is intuitive within the halls the Pentagon that pouring more soldiers into Baghdad will help cease the violence. This is how the military always thinks. More force is always better. But this consideration looms in contrast to what some commanders actually in Iraq believe. With the spectrum of opinion about whether more troops or fewer is the "way forward," the one thing that does seem clear is that there is nothing clear about what the effects of more troops will actually be, both for the situation in Iraq and for the readiness of the US military in general.


Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the new Sec. Def.Mr. Gates, understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

8:29 PM  

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