For those convinced that “more is better” when it comes to U.S. force levels in Iraq, Rumsfeld was a favorite target, because it was inconceivable that the generals on the ground really didn’t want more troops. Well now, with Rusmfeld gone, and the head of Central Command speaking his mind, it emerges that the generals really don’t want more troops.
One unintended effect of the Baker-Hamilton report has been to so thoroughly politicize issues of strategy, operations, and even tactics, that the military is getting increasingly sidelined in the decision-making. President Bush is in danger of committing the one mistake of the Vietnam era that he vowed never to commitâ€”to allow military decisions to become politicized. Recent reports describe the widening rift between political appointees in Washington and the generals on the ground.
That is an ill omen. The generals know what they are talking about: There is no reason to believe that an increase in force levels will have any effect at all on the levels of violence in Baghdad. . . . But political pressure creates politicized strategies. The president has a problem: all the violence in Baghdad makes it look like we’re losing the war, regardless the pace of reconstruction or political progress. Now the violence in Baghdad has become the political determinant of victory and defeatâ€”and hence the primary focus of military strategy.
As I’ve said before, I’m an agnostic on the “more troops” question. But I’m pretty sure we’ll get farther by addressing the problems that Bill Roggio identifies than by adding 20 or even 40 thousand more troops.
Jed Babbin asks some useful questions, too.
And in a related post, Don Surber observes: “Congress authorized the war in Afghanistan 5 years ago and the war in Iraq 4 years ago. This is not â€œM*A*S*H.â€ Wars are not sitcoms. You cannot cancel them after a few seasons because they are unpopular.”
UPDATE: On the Army-size issue, John Barton sends this link to a table of military size over time. We’re well below the average for recent decades even though we’re at war.