Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 24, 2004


I cannot seem to find this in the English speaking news, so here it is in French, as announced by Rumsfeld in Iraq today: there now are 150,000 US soldiers in Iraq (US, not coalition)

It's more than it's ever been, but will it be enough to make sure that there actually are elections?

And why is this not mentioned - and commented upon - in English-speaking news outlets, as the most significant part of the info provided by Rumsfeld in his trip to Iraq? Troop levels are not enough, but nevertheless inexorably go up. Is that a major case of too little, too late, or what?

Posted by Jérôme à Paris on December 24, 2004 at 18:13 UTC | Permalink


Who is your enemy?

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 24 2004 18:32 utc | 1


Your understanding of 21st century strategy and tactics seems woefully inadequate.

Follow the yellow brick road to the LIBRARY;

And check out the first two books you see there pertaining to Iraq.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Dec 24 2004 20:03 utc | 3

Make that AT LEAST 150,000.

With the planned January 2005 elections scheduled to be held in Iraq, the deployment of a number of units taking part in OIF 2 was extended in a manner similar to units which took part in OIF 1; this time in order to boost the number of troops in Iraq in time for the elections. The extension combined with regularly scheduled deployments and reinforcements would boost the US force in Iraq from 17 to 20 brigades and to an official and approximate figure of 153, 000 troops.

This figure may, however, be an undercount of actual in-country troop numbers, as Special Forces have been reported to generally be excluded from troop totals. As such, the total figure of US troops in Iraq may be higher than the official count of ~150,000 by multiple thousands. One such Special Forces unit, the 10th Special Forces Group deployed to Iraq in late-2004, for an undetermined length of time.

US Forces Order of Battle - early December 2004 by

You also have to add some 20,000-30,000 in logistic and Air missions in Kuwait etc.

Prediction: December 2005 there will be at least 200,000 US troops in Iraq.

Posted by: b | Dec 24 2004 20:09 utc | 4

Insurgents Wish Rumsfeld a Merry Christmas

Posted by: FlashHarry | Dec 24 2004 21:02 utc | 5

many questions come to mind:

- if they are not able to equip 150K troops with armor vehicles and whatnot and have had to resort to air transport to supply troops even with water, how will they supply 200K troops, taking into account the rate of attrition of equipment ?

if they are losing 10 HMMVs plus 5 bigger vehicles (a combination of trucks, tanks, APCs ...) per day on average - my estimate - then:
- are they able to replace the lost equipment at least at the attrition rate ?
- how and in what are they going to send the additional troops on patrol ? 1 HMMV is 4 soldiers unable to go on patrol, one destroyed APC/Stryker means 6-10 soldiers not going on patrol, a truck less means less supplies moved ... and then, more soldiers on the ground = more vehicles = more exposure = more casualties per day. a soldier on base unable to complete a mission is dead weight on operations, a casualty by the US military definition of the term.
- how will they keep their supply lines open for 200K personnel if brute force does not help keeping them open for 150K personnel ?
- i read somewhere that they are scrounging 100 tanks from korea: how long will it take the resistance to turn them into scrap iron ? (1 per day avg is my estimate, gives 100 days).
- an 'uparmored' HMMV supposedly leaves only about 1000 pounds of carrying capacity free, that is 4 soldiers plus weapons and ammo but no heavy equipment (50cal gun, MK-19, ...). will this limitation in payload capacity lessen the effectivity/range of the motorized patrols ?
- how long will it take the guerilla to learn to deal with the 'uparmored' HMMVs ?

my uneducated guesstimate is that by now about 1% of iraqis of military age AND able are with the guerilla. that would make about 63K fighters operating in iraq. given that the iraki army was about 400K people and the level of rage against the invasion:
- how many more fighters will they have recruited by december 2005 ?
- how many fighters will the be able to recruit from the displaced population of fallujah ? my guess, again as per above, they'll get at least 600-700 fighters right away and more as time passes.
- if they do a fallujah on mosul, how does it look then for the americans ?
- supposing that they start attacking targets inside syria, how will the syrian government and population react ? will the syrians start handing out weapons and ammo to all men and creating hidden weapons caches like in iraq ?

questions over questions. my short and simple guess is that 50K+ troops by dec/2005 will be too little too late for the americans IF they make it until then.

by the look of it, a war is no different than a software project in that correcting errors during the planning phase cost 1, during the test phase cost 10 and after deployment of the product cost 100 (of whatever units). by sending more troops now, the americans are doing nothing but fixing bugs in an already deployed product. but there is also an aspect in which a war is very different than a software project: in a war, you don't have a product cycle which allows for patches upgrades or new versions.

anything the americans do will only lead to more troubles and penury for everybody involved and there are IMO only two ways to go: kill all iraqis or get out asap. the palestine option of converting the country into one giant concentration camp is closed because the guerilla have de facto unlimited weapons supplies.

Posted by: name | Dec 24 2004 21:49 utc | 6


Al in all, it would have been good for everybody concerned if Rum and Wolf and all the rest had become software developers.

If Gates had got these worthies, he'd probably shot himself in his garage in utter dispair.

One small step for mankind all the way around.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Dec 24 2004 22:34 utc | 8


Very good analogy to software projects. As a program manager you often know its wrong to take the next step, because you know it will be more longterm expensive to go forward then to first clean up the current mess.

But the management that doesn't know software projects doesn´t care and orders to do the next step now.

Your estimates on troops and losses are reasonable but the management will not care. What is Bush but the President who happened to be President when 9/11 happened? The Iraq war is him, defines him and his role in history, and he will not "let it down".

Against all reasoning he will go the way of "more of the same" more troops, more attacks on other countries, Viet Nam on speed.

Posted by: b | Dec 24 2004 22:43 utc | 9

Name: Pulling a Fallujah on Mosul? Do they have enough troops, considering it took them close to 20.000 soldiers in Fallujah. Mosul is something like 4 times bigger. If they brought in the bulk of the Peshmergas, they may be able to do it, but if the US is the main supplier of boots on the ground, they'll have to empty either Baghdad or the Sunni heartland, which would mean either allowing autonomy to the Sunnis for a few weeks and possibility for the Sunni insurgents to set up bases and control over a vast area, that will be tough to dismantle later, or giving up Baghdad to Sadr, with the risk of a major attack on various administrations if not the Green Zone itself, by Sadrists and/or by Sunnis.
All that, assuming they really had/have enough guys to clean up Fallujah, and we're still in the dark about what's happening there now. At best, they rase the city and can't process back 1 mio pissed off Iraqis.
As far as I can see, an attack on Mosul has the potential of a PR disaster on par with the Warsaw insurrection.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Dec 24 2004 23:42 utc | 10

One way to account for the (silent) escalation in troop numbers, is the additional security requirements necessary to police, and rebuild Fallujah. According to the latest Cordesman (linked on the other thread) report, the first on a long list of insurgent goals is to disrupt and destroy infrastructure services and capabilities like utilities, water treatment, hospitals, etc. along with attacks to governance structures (like security posts etc).

Another goal is to radicalize the population into a position of supporting the resistance, through drawing the occupation into attacking targets that have symbolic or cultural importance to the population -- mosques, private homes, business', etc.

So now in Fallujah, with the water treatment plant , electrical generation plant, the hospitals, thousands of homes, business', government structures, places of worship, business', and all manner of plumbing, transmission lines, sewer, and thoroughfare, all destroyed -- will neccessitate the salvage, clean-up, and the almost total reconstruction of this city of over 3000,000 is in itself a task that could take months if not years and cost billions. And most importantly, saddle the US military with large scale security duty in the most hostile enviroment in all of Iraq for the indefinite future.

The resistance, I would imagine, has to be pretty pleased with this accounting in that the US military has in effect, been drawn into weilding it's usual indiscrimate massive overkill brutality and blunder, doing the work of the resistance -- far beyond its own capacity -- And while at the same time, binding itself into a long term obligation repleat with all the trumped up goals and expectations we now, so fameously fail to deliver on. Its not so sarcastic, to see the ultimate goals of the resistance inhanced through the deliberate baiting of the predictable US policy.

Sure, we're going to need alot more troops if we continue to do the work of both the resistance and the occupation.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 25 2004 1:12 utc | 11

@clueless && bernhard:

another one-liner from the world of software: adding man-hours to a late project makes the project later.

and one more analogy:
pulling a fallujah on mosul,
pulling an iraq on iran

both are IMO probable events because the US leadership (what an oxymoron) has repeatedly demonstrated that they take irrational decisions by any yardstick. things like lack of troops or a real justification are things which concern 'reality-based' people but not to those who operate using sharons modus operandi: if something went bad because you forgot to factor reality into your decisions, do it again and be sure that this time the outcome is far worse for everybody, not just the enemy.

mosul is probable because of revenge for what happened two days ago - they are already conducting house-to-house searches, what will result in further escalations of hostilities from both sides. when the US decide to raze mosul, they'll probably resort to airpower because the guerillas are still beating the shit out of them in fallujah and the US troops have shown they are weenies when compared man for man to the iraqis.

iran is probable because dubya has "political capital" which his god tells him to spend and because sharon wants greater israel. lack of troops is irrelevant because they'll probably nuke the place if the iranians make too much trouble - damn be the consequences. the tragic thing is that both the US and israel are 'giant turds circling down the toilet' to put it in the words of another blogger (xymphora). in both countries the sane majority is disaffected from their govts and deserting the social contract in droves. while most americans cat go anywhere - still thousands are reportedly fleeing - about a month ago the arab edition of yediot ahronot reported that 2.5M israeli citizens are known to be outside their country, that with a population of about 5.5M. both regimes will ultimately lose their respective wars against the arabs, and as a bonus they'll lose their own countries in the process.


i doubt the goal of the resistence was ever to 'radicalize the population' by depriving them of everything. this cynical mentality will be found n the war planners of western nations but i doubt the guerillas want more than to get rid of the US. the fallujans repeatedly tried to get the americans to tell them where al-zarqawi was so they could hand him over, they even tried to talk with the hated 'interim govt' so they would try to stop the americans, but no success here.

Posted by: name | Dec 25 2004 5:10 utc | 12


it just struck me as ironic, that if you take much of the language of analysis, language that is even critical of US tactics -- and compare it to the actual results of US actions, one could conclude that they are not only unproductive, but counter-productive (not only failing their own intention, but also helping the other side in the process).

It would'nt suprise me that the command structure for the resistance is aware of this, and thereby leave enough fighters behind in Fallujah to make US actions difficult enough to ensure that the (predictible) action will insure large scale destruction of the city. While this large scale destruction, along with the high number of "collateral" damage casualties takes much of the shine off any preported success, it more importantly forces the US to keep a large contengent of troops tied down with security/reconstruction while also coping with an ever growing humanitarian problem -- not to mention the bill for rebuilding a city for 300 thousand.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 25 2004 7:50 utc | 13

Following,in part, from Common Dreams:
Published on Friday, December 24, 2004 by the Associated Press

Ex-Hostage: Rebels Wanted Bush Re-Elected

PARIS - French journalists held hostage for four months in Iraq said their militant captors told them they wanted President Bush to win re-election.

French journalists and former hostages in Iraq Georges Malbrunot (R) and Christian Chesnot talk to newsmen moments after landing at Villacoublay military airbase, near Paris, December 22, 2004. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
In a four-page account of their ordeal, one of the reporters, Georges Malbrunot, also wrote that they saw several other hostages who were later decapitated. The journalists said their captors viewed foreign businessmen working in Iraq as their enemies.

One of the captors from the group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq said Bush's re-election would boost their cause, Malbrunot wrote in Friday's edition of Le Figaro, the French daily he works for.

"We want Bush because with him the American troops will stay in Iraq and that way we will be able to develop," Malbrunot cited the captor as saying.

Bush beat Democrat John Kerry to win the presidency last month.

Another captor, who described himself as the group's head of internal intelligence, told the men that the Islamic Army has four enemies: American and coalition troops, "their collaborators, that is to say Italian businessmen, or even French," as well Iraqi police and spies.

Malbrunot wrote that the Islamic Army has 15,000 to 17,000 members and that its hostage-takings are carefully organized.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 26 2004 7:00 utc | 14


In part also from Common Dreams:
Published on Friday, December 24, 2004 by Reuters

Falluja Returnees Angry, 'City Unfit for Animals'

by Fadil al-Badrani

FALLUJA, Iraq - Iraqis reacted with anger, frustration and resentment Friday after many returned to Falluja to discover their homes in rubble and their livelihoods ruined following last month's U.S. offensive.

"I saw the city and al-Andalus destroyed," said Ali Mahmood, 35, referring to the district of the city he returned to briefly Thursday but now plans to leave after seeing the mess.

"My house is completely destroyed. There is nothing left for me to stay for," the teacher said, adding that he would rather live in the tented camp outside Falluja that has been his family's home for the past two months.

Troops search a boy as families begin returning to war-torn Falluja, December 23, 2004. Some 2,000 Iraqis, who fled a U.S.-led offensive on Falluja more than a month ago, are returning to the Sunni Muslim city although sporadic fighting persists in some areas, Iraqi ministers said. (Akram Saleh/Reuters)
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on a suprise pre-Christmas visit to Iraq, visited troops at a base near Falluja Friday but made no mention of the city's rebuilding.
An Iraqi Health Ministry official said his greatest concern was the resentment Falluja's people were likely to feel when they saw how much damage had been done to their homes.
That was certainly the case Friday. While those who fled were at pains to say they had nothing to do with the rebels who made Falluja their stronghold, many of them have since become angry and militant as a result of the offensive.

"Would Allah want us to return to a city that animals can't live in?" said Yasser Satar as he saw his destroyed home.

"Even animals who have no human sense and feelings can not live here," he said, crying.

"What do they want from Falluja? This is the crime of the century. They want to destroy Islam and Muslims. But our anger and resistance will increase."


Aid workers said 200,000 people fled Falluja before the assault and have spent the past seven weeks living in nearby towns and villages or in tented refugee camps nearby.
Some 900 people, mostly men, made the journey, going through intense security checks before being allowed to enter, including fingerprinting and iris scanning of "suspicious military-age men" to ensure insurgents do not filter back in.

The U.S. military said the program to return residents had gone well Thursday and it expected more people to flow back into the Andalus district in the days ahead. In the coming weeks, others will be allowed to return to their neighborhoods.

But they will be without water and electricity as basic services and communications were knocked out in the assault.
Iraq's government has said it will pay $2,000 compensation for partial damage to homes, $4,000 for substantial damage and $10,000 to those whose homes were completely destroyed -- far less than Iraqis say they would need to rebuild their homes.

Shopkeepers will receive $1,500-$3,000 based on the size of their shop and what they sell. But that may not be enough to assuage the anger of many. Asked Satar: "Is this freedom and democracy that they brought to Falluja?"

Additional reporting by Omar Anwar and Luke Baker

© Copyright 2004 Reuters Ltd

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 26 2004 7:20 utc | 15

Oh what the hell,
A comment from an old friend at backtoiraq:
I’m just stunned that insurgents were able to get inside and do this. This also makes the debate over whether the still-under-construction concrete dining facility was behind schedule moot. A concrete roof wouldn’t have made a whit of difference.

Actually, a concrete roof would have contained the explosion, increasing the blast pressures and probably leading to more casualties. Or, as Rummy might put it, even an armored dining hall can still be blown up. (You go to eat in the mess tent you have, not the one you would like to have.)

As for the implications, I should think it’s obvious by now that Colin Powell knew of what he spoke when he said the “army” and security services of the New Iraq have been thoroughly penetrated by the resistance. As has been the case all along, they know a hell of a lot more about the occupiers than the occupiers know about them.

I have to think there are at least a few grizzled old Viet Cong double agents kicking back in Ho Chi Minh City, watching this fiasco on TV and laughing their asses off. Like the Bourbons, it seems that Americans forget nothing and learn nothing …

Posted by: Billmon at December 23, 2004 04:18 AM

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 26 2004 9:25 utc | 16

It has long been recognized that the employment of local nationals on military bases is the weak link in the security chain. Vetting is imperfect, counterintelligence is slow, painstaking work, and the set-up depends heavily on informal relationships that are (more and less) susceptible to infiltration and exploitation. But the benefits almost always outweigh the risks.

In Afghanistan there was a base that was regularly targeted by mortars. Most of those that landed inside the compound did so harmlessly, with the occasional hit here and there. But it was decided that a vulnerable fuel tank needed to be relocated from one area of the base to another. A few days after it was moved, guerillas narrowly missed blowing up the tank. It was soon discovered which Afghan worker had passed the information on the tank's relocation. The worker said that if he did not cooperate with members of his tribe - those who desired information on the military compound - that his life and the lives of his family members would be threatened. So he was told that, fine, he needn't stop passing information; he only needed to stop passing information that was very good. This approach entailed a certain amount of risk, but it enabled the Americans in succeeding weeks to uncover the trail of inside information and follow it to its end users.

I'm not aware of any published statistics on the number of Iraqi civilians employed on US bases in Iraq, but it is an appreciable number. I'm only surprised that an incident like the one at Mosul didn't happen sooner.

As far as Iraqi security forces go, there appears to have been little or no vetting at the get-go. Quantity over quality will haunt you every time. Maybe it was political pressure (and acquiesence) to get the numbers up too quickly, to show results on paper. An old story if ever there was one.

Posted by: Pat | Dec 26 2004 12:16 utc | 17

Bill Moyers: "Our Democracy is in Danger of Being Paralyzed"

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 26 2004 12:56 utc | 18

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