Wednesday, January 10, 2007

DefenseTech Asks: What Difference Will 20,000 Troops Make?

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Noah Schachtman at DefenseTech on the uses (or not) of a surge:

Obviously, the giant news of the day is Bush's plan for more troops in Iraq. And I have to say, I'm having trouble getting my arms around the story. Because I can't find anyone -- anyone -- that thinks this "surge," this "escalation," is a good idea. That believes it will truly deliver a significant impact.

I know a lot of you guys who hang out here at Defense Tech are committed supporters of the President. Who think he's done a solid job, given extremely difficult circumstances. So let's hear from you: Will adding 20,000 troops really make much of a difference in Iraq? How?

Don't get me wrong. For more than three years, I've had soldiers complaining to me about the lack of boots on the ground. About how winnable this war might be with more troops. But these guys didn't want a 10 or 15 percent increase in manpower, like the President will call for tonight. They wanted several divisions to join 'em. Enough troops to completely blanket the country -- or at least to pull off the classic counterinsurgency move of clearing out neighborhoods of guerrillas, and holding the areas for the good guys.
It doesn't even seem like the surge's intellectual authors even back the plan. Gen Jack Keane, who helped push the idea to the White House, called for 32,000 troops -- 50% more than what the President is supposed to ask for. John McCain, Congress' most visible backer for more troops, is squirming, too. On the Today show last week, the Senator was asked if 20,000 more soldiers would be enough. His answer: "I’m not sure... To make it of short duration and small size would be the worst of all options to exercise, in my opinion."

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