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imperialism & war

Pressure mounts for increased US forces in Iraq

AFP reports on mounting pressure for increased US forces in Iraq. "AFP" stands for "Agence France-Presse" --- the world's oldest established news agency, founded in 1835 by Charles-Louis Havas, the father of global journalism. Yahoo! News carries AFP stories. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "has violated the most basic rule of military planning, which is you might hope for the best, but you plan for the worst. He's been basically planning for the best."
IMHO, war is already the worst, so how do you even "hope for" the best when you plan a war, let alone plan for the best? The best would have been avoiding war altogether. Not enough money to be made there, however. Guess it's another case of choosing lesser evils. Anyway, here is the story from Agence France-Presse:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US commanders are under mounting pressure to increase troop levels in Iraq (news - web sites) but the superpower army and its reserves are already stretched, experts say.

The US Defense Department has extended by 90 days the tours of 20,000 soldiers in Iraq and offered to find new troops to keep the deployment at 135,000, if the military deems it necessary.

With the military death toll mounting and pictures of coffins starting to appear on the front pages of US newspapers, General John Abizaid, head of Central Command, which runs the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites), has given the clearest signal yet that he would ask for those troops.

In an interview with the New York Times published Saturday, Abizaid said he expected security in Iraq to worsen before the scheduled June 30 transfer of political power to an interim government.

"If the situation stays about like it is, I will certainly ask that those forces be replaced," the Times quoted him as saying. "We're going to make sure we have the right forces in place to do the job that needs to be done."

Abizaid indicated he could ask for more than the 135,000 troops if more countries follow the lead of Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic and withdraw from the coalition in Iraq.

Virtually all the US combat divisions are now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz admitted to Congress this week that the United States would have to "dig deep" to find more troops.

Loren Thompson, an expert at the Lexington Institute in Washington, said that with nearly half a million active-duty personnel and well over half a million reservists -- Army Reserve or Army National Guard -- the United States "should have enough personnel to sustain a larger troop presence in Iraq."

But keeping an army in a combat zone normally requires three soldiers for every one deployed, a third at the front, a third waiting to deploy and third recuperating from deployment.

"Once you factor in other deployments such as the Balkans, Afghanistan and Korea, this begins to look like more than the active duty army can sustain on a normal rotation schedule," said Thompson.

Bill Nash, a former commander in Bosnia and now an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Washington, said "the forces are stretched, but that doesn't mean we're empty by any means."

He predicted that rotations would be accelerated, but that the Pentagon could still activate more reservists.

"We can do lots of things for a few months, like sending the units that have only recently returned," said Michael O'Hanlon, a defense expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "But that makes the long-term problem much worse. We simply need a larger army."

Larry Korb, a deputy defense secretary under President Ronald Reagan, said the administration could ask European forces to take over US duties in Bosnia, which would free 11,000 US forces.

"You've got a real bad situation now. Because you haven't planned adequately for it, you're caught somewhat short."

Korb said that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "has violated the most basic rule of military planning, which is you might hope for the best, but you plan for the worst. He's been basically planning for the best."

Sending reinforcements could spark a political row in Washington, as some generals made it known before the invasion in March 2003 that they did not believe the United States had enough forces to secure Iraq.