Will Troop Reduction Rumors save the Yellow Elephants?
We're sure getting a whole mess of leaked memos coming out of Britain, aren't we? First the Downing Street Memos, now this:
LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - A leaked document from Britain's Defence Ministry says the British and U.S. governments are planning to reduce their troop levels in Iraq by more than half by mid-2006, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported.Now I hope this is true, but I remember hearing reports of us lowering troop levels right before the 2004 election as well, and it didn't happen. And ain't it funny now how this memo is conveniently leaked right after the London Bombings and as Bush's poll numbers decline. When I see our servicemembers' boots on American soil, I will believe it.
The memo said Washington planned to cut its forces to 66,000 from about 140,000 by early 2006.Hasn't it always been the case that 14 of the 18 provinces were relatively stable, anyway? It's those central Fallujah / Baghdad provinces that have always been the problem, you know, the populated ones. You could say that 95% of American counties don't have a problem with gang violence, either, but that doesn't lessen the impact of the gang violence in the 5% that do have a problem.
"Emerging U.S. plans assume 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006," the memo said.
The United States and Britain have the two largest contingents of foreign forces in Iraq and the memo described the impact a reduction of U.S. and British forces might have on other allied troops.Well, two of the top three. The #2 spot is held by 20,000 stateless mercenaries (we like to call them "contractors"), answerable to no government or law of war.
Maybe the US and UK are just finally coming to the realization that so many other countries of our "coalition of the
Countries which had troops in or supported operations in Iraq at one point but have pulled out since: Nicaragua (Feb. 2004); Spain (late-Apr. 2004); Dominican Republic (early-May 2004); Honduras (late-May 2004); Philippines (~Jul. 19, 2004); Thailand (late-Aug. 2004); New Zealand (late Sep. 2004); Tonga (mid-Dec. 2004) Hungary (end Dec. 2004); Portugal (mid-Feb. 2005); Moldova (Feb. 2005)No, Mr. Bush, I didn't forget about Poland.
Countries planning to withdraw from Iraq: Poland (starting Jan.05 and completed by end.05(?)); the Netherlands (Mar. 05); Bulgaria (end of 2005, depending on circumstances); Ukraine (entire contingent, in stages until mid-October 2005), Italy (Sept. 2005)
Countries which have reduced or are planning to reduce their troop commitment: Ukraine (-200 during Fall04 rotation); Moldova (reduced contingent to 12 around mid-2004); Norway (reduced from ~150 to 10 late-Jun.04, early Jul.04); Bulgaria (-50, Dec.04); Poland (-700, Feb.05).
Will this be the troop reduction that spares the lives and commitment of our beloved Yellow Elephants? Are we really ready to hand off the job of securing Iraq to those 160,000 Iraqi security forces President Bush told us about? You know, the ones that "are at different levels of readiness. Some are capable of taking on the terrorists and insurgents by themselves. A larger number can plan and execute anti-terrorist operations with Coalition support. The rest are forming and not yet ready to participate fully in security operations." By "some" he means about 2,500, by a "larger number" he means about 8,900, and by "the rest" he means around 150,000.
Then there's that nagging problem of the overextending of our Guard and Reserve. According to the New York Times:
...the Army is running perilously low on its Reserve and National Guard soldiers who largely fill certain critical support jobs, like military police and civil affairs officers and truck drivers. Marine Corps reservists are facing similar constraints.Now, we know that Young College Republicans don't want to see their homes and families victimized by forest fires, hurricanes, or floods. And we've heard from so many of them that have "other priorities" like their family, schooling, or career.
A main reason for the shortages is that more and more of these troops who have been involuntarily mobilized are nearing their 24-month maximum call-up limit set by the Bush administration, military personnel specialists say.
"By next fall, we'll have expended our ability to use National Guard brigades as one of the principal forces," said Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army commander who was dispatched to Iraq last month to assess the operation. "We're reaching the bottom of the barrel."
In the last several months, the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, has repeatedly cautioned that the Reserve was "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force."
Some governors have complained that, with forest fire season beginning, they are confronting unprecedented shortages of National Guard personnel and equipment at a critical time. Facing similar complaints last summer, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, promised governors that he would keep at least half of each state's guard troops at home for use in state missions.
In Oregon, another state where National Guard units are often mobilized to fight forest fires, fewer helicopters are also causing worry. "We don't have the aircraft we've had before," said Capt. Mike Braibish, a spokesman for the Oregon National Guard. "We're still going to be there. It's just going to take longer to get there."
So let's encourage them all to take a good look at the Guard & Reserve. They can serve part-time right here in America, keeping their own home states safe from natural disaster while continuing on with their "other priorities". With that rumored reduction of forces in Iraq from 140,000 to 66,000, they would be even less chance they'd have to worry about raising money for their own body armor for the privilege of dodging IED's in Fallujah.