Tuesday, May 01, 2007


By Ivan G. Goldman
We’re so tired and disgusted with lies about Iraq that we sometimes pay insufficient attention to what people in government tell us about it. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander there, has recently divulged hugely significant changes in strategy that will, he’s conceded, result in a higher U.S. casualty rate.
Patraeus, an intellectual soldier who literally and truly wrote the book on counterinsurgency fighting, is repositioning troops, placing them in forward patrol bases like the one in Diyala Province where nine U.S. paratroopers were killed and approximately 20 wounded in two horrific, coordinated suicide bombings on April 23. The repositioning allows U.S. troops to interact on a daily basis with Iraqi civilians while they aggressively patrol their new neighborhoods.
But with our troops spread out in these smaller enclaves, they stay in positions that can’t be defended as easily. Engineers placed formidable concrete barriers and other defensive structures around the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) that had been the typical headquarters area for ground troops. But those structures aren’t in place around the kind of small base used by those soldiers of the famed 82nd Airborne Division who were killed April 23. Patraeus, who said the new strategy is already bringing some progress, told military personnel at a Pentagon briefing:
“Our achievements have not come without sacrifice. Our increase in operational tempo, location of our forces in the populations they are securing and conduct of operations in areas where we previously had no presence, as well as the enemy's greater use of certain types of explosive devices, have led to an increase in our losses."
Also, in an interview on NPR last week, Patraeus was the first commander of any rank to admit that troop levels are well beyond the announced 160,000. Without citing figures, the forthright general officer pointed out private contractors carry out everyday missions such as guarding the Baghdad airport that would ordinarily be performed by military units, and so these non-uniformed fighters must be included in the force level. Other sources number the mercenary contingent at 112,000. These civilians performing soldier functions for as much as $30,000 a month have been The Great Invader’s stealth method of raising force levels without alarming the public by calling for a draft. They’ve also allowed him to hand out lucrative, no-bid contracts to business pals who accept the casualty rate of their work force as a cost of business.
Patraeus, asked to devise a strategy that could vanquish the many enemies that make up the insurgency, put one together, but in addition to resulting in the killing and maiming of more U.S. troops, it will take years to yield significant results. Patraeus has been telling us this, but no one’s listening. Also, he's not talking about training Iraqis to take our place because he recognizes that strategy has, after four years of failure, proved useless.
The Great Invader has, without asking us, signed America on for a ten-year war at least. Get used to it, or get out in the street and make the government step back from placing all these resources into a war that couldn’t possibly be worth all the lives and treasure it expends in our name.

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