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U.S. poised to destroy Fallujah as U.S. force levels seen as inadequate

As the U.S. prepares for a possible bloody showdown in Fallujah -- risking an even wider and more violent uprising throughout Iraq -- the U.S. military considers dwindling options available to meet what is considered to be the minimal man-power required to maintain the U.S. position in Iraq. Despite strong re-enlistment numbers for seasoned combat troops, there just isn't much slack left. One option under consideration is immediately calling up the Oregon-Idaho 116th Armored Cavalry Brigade (National Guard).
It's official. U.S. military leaders do not believe that the U.S. forces are adequate, or are going to be adequate any time soon, to accomplish whatever the mission in Iraq is supposed to be. According to a "Q&A" on "Troop Strength in Iraq" -- by the N. Y. Times with the Council on Foreign Relations, (published Saturday, April 24) -- experts have told the Senate Armed Services Committee that 31 of the Army's 33 combat brigades will have been deployed for combat between March 2003 and June 2004.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, "The Pentagon says it is developing plans to keep American troop levels in Iraq at 135,000 or higher after the June 30 handover of political control to a transitional Iraqi government. The number of U.S. forces had been scheduled to drop to about 110,000 this spring, but a surge in anti-coalition violence in April, combined with the lackluster performance of many Iraqi security units, persuaded U.S. generals to maintain the higher force levels."

Supposedly, the "130,000 or so troops that have been in Iraq for a year are in the process of returning home and being replaced by fresh forces." The reality, however, is that the U.S. has had to break a pledge "to keep individual soldiers in Iraq no longer than one year." Even soldiers whose terms of enlistment have been satisfied are being kept in Iraq through extending their enlistments.

Entire units that were to have left Iraq by June 30, mostly combat troops, are being kept longer,, including the 1st Armored Division with 14,300 troops. What will happen when these units eventually do return home is unclear.

Here are more excerpts from the N. Y. Times "Q&A" quoting Sharon Otterman (cfr.org) speaking for the Council on Foreign Relations:

"Some 20,000 troops have had their tours extended by three months to augment the incoming units."

"Only 2,000 troops are being withdrawn [in the pullout of Spanish and other foreign forces], so the military impact is minor, experts say. But the political and psychological repercussions are significant. 'It suggests that the coalition could be beginning to crack,' says retired Army General Wayne Downing."

"[A] growing chorus of former generals and politicians has called for more forces, and the Pentagon is developing contingency plans to send them if the violence has not eased by July. 'It is painfully clear that we need more troops,' said Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on April 22. 'Before the war, the U.S. Army chief of staff said that several hundred thousand troops would be necessary to keep the peace. While criticized at the time, General [Eric K.] Shinseki now looks prescient,' he said."

"Eight of the Army's 10 active divisions, which average about 15,000 troops each, are tied down with Iraq commitments. They are either in Iraq, on their way there, or recently returned home, says Michael P. Peters, executive vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Army officer. That leaves two possible divisions:

"The 3rd Infantry Division. It spearheaded the Iraq invasion and returned to Fort Stewart, Georgia, in July and August 2003. The division is scheduled to go back to Iraq in late 2004, but its deployment may be moved up to this summer.

"The 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. This force, which would defend South Korea from a North Korean attack, could be moved without much of a military impact, because 'the South Korean army is large and capable,' Peters says. On the other hand, taking the division out of Korea--which many analysts say is unlikely--'would be an extreme step, Peters says, 'with tremendous political costs in the Korean Peninsula and beyond.'

"Alternatively, forces could come from the Marines or National Guard:

"The Marines. Additional Marines could come from any one of the three Marine Expeditionary Forces, or MEFs, that comprise the service. Much of MEF I is already deployed in the Sunni triangle area of Iraq. Some forces may be available from MEF II, which is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Experts say a last resort option would be to bring in MEF III, which is based in Okinawa, Japan, and serves as a strategic reserve in the Pacific. 'Moving them would be risky, but doable,' Peters says."

"The National Guard. Some analysts say the Army could accelerate the deployment of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, based in Tennessee, the 116th Armored Cavalry Brigade, based in Idaho and Oregon, and the 256th Infantry Brigade, based in Louisiana. These units were expected to go to Iraq in late 2004 or early 2005."

"Some 40 percent of the new troops rotating into Iraq this spring are reservists or National Guard, according to the Pentagon. Twenty to twenty-five percent of the homeward-bound soldiers are reservists. . . . This is the largest mobilization of National Guard and Reserve units since 1950, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee."

"'They [U.S. forces] can keep this up indefinitely, but they are going to pay a price,' says Lawrence J. Korb, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. 'There's a real danger that, if this pace of operations continues, the quality of the force is going to deteriorate,' Peters says. Among the problems: the forces won't have sufficient time to train and refit for future missions, they and their equipment will become worn out, and morale will suffer. Ultimately, because U.S. forces are made up entirely of volunteers, recruitment and enlistments will fall. This potential manpower loss has been headed off in the short term by the military's "stop-loss" order, which mandates that active duty soldiers and reserves deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan may not leave the service until 90 days after they return home."

"There are about 492,000 soldiers on active duty, according to the Department of Defense. At the end of the Cold War, in 1991, there were 710,800 soldiers on active duty. At the height of the Vietnam conflict, there were 1,512,000 troops."

"There are currently about 178,000 [Marines]. While the Army dropped steeply in size in the 1990s, the number of Marines has remained relatively stable. However, the Corps' commitments have increased. 'The Marines are straining, given all of the obligations they have,' says retired Marine Corps General Bernard E. Trainor, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"In general, only about one-third of the Army's divisions should be deployed at any one time, to give the forces time to retrain and prepare for the next mission, Peters says. But according to current deployment schedules, 31 of the Army's 33 combat brigades will have been deployed for combat between March 2003 and June 2004, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Another problem is that many of the forces in Iraq are being pulled from the reserves, and therefore are limited to two-year deployments. This includes the majority of the military police, engineering units, civil affairs officers, and hospital personnel serving in Iraq."

"U.S. senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), introduced legislation in March to expand the size of the volunteer Army by 30,000 soldiers. The increase would cost $3.6 billion annually."

"Senator Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has also said he wants the United States to consider reviving the draft as part of a broader effort to ensure that all Americans "bear some responsibility" for defending the nation's interests against the terror threat."

"One of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's goals is to move thousands of soldiers into combat brigades from desk jobs that could be performed by civilian Defense Department workers or government contractors. This will sharpen U.S. capabilities by "increasing the Army's tooth-to-tail ratio," Peters says."

"President Bush has approved a $660 million program to train and equip peacekeeping forces in other countries, especially in Africa, The Washington Post reported. But this five-year program will take a while to bear fruit, and its soldiers won't be trained for the kind of heavy combat U.S. troops in Iraq are engaged in."

"[E]ven if European nations agreed to support the mission, most would have few forces to send. 'There's not much extra capacity in Western Europe,' Peters says. Turkey has many combat-ready forces. But Iraqi leaders have insisted that these troops stay out of Iraq, primarily because of long-standing animosity between Turks and Iraqi Kurds."

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Fallujah's Terrain Favors Militants 25.Apr.2004 02:20

NYT via Seattle Times

Sunday, April 25, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Thom Shanker and John Kifner
The New York Times

WASHINGTON If the Pentagon could build a training ground that would incorporate all the perils of urban warfare, it would look very much like the city the Marines may have to invade: Fallujah.

Fallujah offers its estimated 2,000 urban guerrillas the combat terrain they would desire. The city has nearly 300,000 residents, a complex mix of boulevards, narrow streets and many back alleys. Apartment buildings are mostly of two, three and four stories, with porches well-suited to snipers. Every neighborhood has a mosque, a clinic, schools and markets, where an errant U.S. shell could carry a high cost in civilian lives, and therefore a great risk of angering Iraqis about the occupation.

Military officers warn that Fallujah's insurgents are tunneling between buildings, linking cellars throughout the neighborhoods they control so they can pop from one building to ambush advancing U.S. forces, then vanish underground where they cannot be tracked by helicopter or Predator surveillance drones.

In this sand-colored and dusty community along the Euphrates River, U.S. forces, if ordered in, would hope to attack insurgent leaders and their gunmen in a series of lightning-quick, precise raids backed by helicopters and AC-130 gunships, according to Pentagon and military officials.

"That doesn't mean that we have to fight a protracted, block-to-block urban warfare," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the deputy director of operations for the military coalition in Iraq, said yesterday.

Rather than going block by block and kicking down doors, which are often booby-trapped, troops may punch holes in the walls of buildings. A new generation of explosives is designed to open a wall, but not to blast through the building, collapse it or hit what lies beyond. Soldiers also may penetrate a building from above, deposited on roofs by ropes slung from helicopters.

AC-130 gunships, which already have been used to fight insurgents in Fallujah, carry cannons and heavy machine guns and are equipped with such sensitive surveillance equipment that crews circling a target can pick out individual adversaries.

The urban terrain of a city like Fallujah makes combat precision much more difficult than in the open battlefield across much of Iraq, the deserts or marshes or rolling grasslands that play to the United States' satellite-guided munitions and laser-focused ordnance.

Urban warfare also tests the individual soldier and small fighting unit, and in particular relies on snap decisions by enlisted riflemen, noncommissioned officers and young officers who are in direct contact with the enemy.

"They take this battle to the enemy," one senior Marine officer at the Pentagon said this weekend. "They are the ones that decide 'go, no go,' to fire or not. The decision is made absolutely instantaneously, and the impact is, well, also instantaneous."

Although the military in Iraq would draw on new technologies and new tactics to dislodge the insurgents from Fallujah, "This is the most difficult of all types of situations you enter in warfare," one senior Pentagon official said this weekend.

"You are so very close to civilians and families and homes, but also close to those material treasures we place value in: mosques and hospitals and schools," the official said.

That is why the military also would look to methods of routing the insurgents short of killing them, including psychological campaigns to make clear that there is a choice other than barricading themselves inside buildings, and dying.

not going to be pretty 25.Apr.2004 03:37

welcome to the real war

welcome to the real war. think bush did not plan this? think again. they may be 'surprised' that things have not gone the way they expected during the first year in iraq, but they have no problem with a guerilla war.

fallujah is going to have a deep meaning in the american collective conscious before this is over.

fallujah/follow jah.

the second article leaves a lot out 25.Apr.2004 03:49

like dead americans

1. The second article says: "Urban warfare also tests the individual soldier and small fighting unit, and in particular relies on snap decisions by enlisted riflemen, noncommissioned officers and young officers who are in direct contact with the enemy.

"They take this battle to the enemy," one senior Marine officer at the Pentagon said this weekend. "They are the ones that decide 'go, no go,' to fire or not. The decision is made absolutely instantaneously, and the impact is, well, also instantaneous.""

translation: the american military has been taught to shoot everything that moves because the life of an american soldier is much more valuable than innocent women, children, the elderly, and non-fighters.

the american military is creating a bloodbath in the false name of "protecting" us.

2. the second article also says: "That is why the military also would look to methods of routing the insurgents short of killing them, including psychological campaigns to make clear that there is a choice other than barricading themselves inside buildings, and dying."

the article talks of the 'perils' of urban warfare, but does not talk about all of the americans who are going to die there also. it should say that the american soldiers also have a choice rather than to enter a place they have no business being in and die there.

Of course Senator Hagel is pointing towards a draft 25.Apr.2004 08:33


Read the article at www.hillnews.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx

Quick summary of article indicates Hagel's ties to the criminal enterprise that runs our government is not well hidden.
His CFR buddies are using him to bring out the need for the draft of reluctantAmericans to carry out their illegal wars.

From Hagel's ties through the McCarthy group to the American Information Systems (AIS) to ES&S which operate a majority of the electronic voting machines his legitamacy as a representative of the people is queswtionable as well as his integrity and character as pointed out in the Ethics Commission.....see www.hillnews.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx

stupidity beyond the pale. 25.Apr.2004 10:42

this thing here

the events in falluja are already miserable and hopelessly lost:

for the price of 4 mercenaries, u.s. marines surround and lay seige to an ENTIRE CITY OF 300,000, and engage in house to house combat for weeks, resulting in 90 combat fatalities.

4 dead mercenaries - seige - 90 dead marines.

for the price of 4 mercenaries, it has been reported that 700 iraqis living in falluja were killed.

4 dead mercenaries - 700 dead iraqi's.

this is absolutely stupid and tragic, completely beyond imagination.

and not only did the u.s. military's response/tactic/technique kill so many people, whether they were insurgents or not, not only that, but it's attacks in falluja, and it's surrounding and putting seige to the entire city, have incited more and more iraqi's into joining the insurgency or refusing to support the american occupation/rebuilding. again, an absolutely stupid, counter-productive move on the part of the u.s. military.

how stupid do you have to be to be a member of the u.s. military? you want to get the people that killed the mercenaries? then you get the people that killed the mercenaries. period. you do NOT lay seige to a city of 300,000, get 90 of your own killed, kill 700 residents, and incite the population. so how fucking CLUELESS do you have to be to in the u.s. military?

and to pile it on even more, now they want to go in house to house and clean out the insurgents. did that work before? so why will it "work" now? how many more marines will get killed? how many more iraqi's will get killed? how many more iraqi's will be incited into joining the insurgency? how much more counter-productive, tragic and ultimately pointless can the u.s. military become?