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A great question from the comments on this post:
Can anyone tell me what the 150000+ troops are actually doing right now in Iraq?An excellent question. I wouldn't use the term, but if you're a "complete illiterate" I don't doubt you represent a large segment of the population, and that's why I'm here. The quick answer is that the combat elements require a very large number of support units. Any military installation can be looked at as a city, providing all the necessary services - police, fireman, "banks" (finance specialists), construction crews, communications infrastructure and folks to repair it - on and on. Essentially most of the larger outposts in Iraq can be looked at in that manner.
I understand the direct combat operations in Anbar Province and the continued operations in the Mosul area, but where are the rest of the forces and what are they really doing? For example the figures for US forces in Operation Steel Curtain were I believe 2500 Marines. What is everyone else doing and is what they are doing important enough that it justifies the daily IED losses? Is there another way to keep the lid on things until Iraqi Units hit some sort of critical mass?
Is it the constant IED attacks which are the most discouraging ? Everyone understands when Marines are casualties in Offensive Operations, but is there no better way to use forces than expose them to bomb blasts while patrolling the same areas again and again? I just have the feeling that this is not very useful or at least not useful enough to warrant the negative side effects.
Just asking as I am a complete illiterate when it comes to counter-insurgency tactics.
- Doug F
Also there are civil affairs troops - those who are rebuilding Iraq. They are combat capable, but clearing the ville isn't their primary task.
And then you have the various levels of headquarters and requisite functionaries.
Add in the Air Force with the massive task of airlifting everything from point A to B. Several AF camps over there contain all the elements of the "small city" supporting lots of folks handling cargo and passengers, air traffic controllers, base operations managers, weather forecasters, aircraft maintainers, fire crews, security forces...
An army of personnel specialists is there to make sure all the paperwork is done. Annoying but essential.
Doctors and nurses - several hospitals full. Dentists. Chaplains. Supply folks. Heating and Air Conditioning repair guys. Computer repair guys. Vehicle maintainers. On and on and on.
These folks are all armed too - or at least each has a weapon nearby. Those who go "outside the wire" - combat, civil affairs, explosive ordnance teams - sometimes refer to their support elements as "Fobbits" - those who never leave the FOB, Forward Operating Base. But they are all at risk too - rocket and mortar attacks occur daily, and although rarely scoring a hit they sometimes do "get lucky". One way to look at it is that these are the folks who don't get to shoot back. Combat crew or not, incoming mortar rounds when you just hit your bunk - or worse, when you just stepped into the shower - can really ruin your day.
That's just a quick and partial answer to the question "What is everyone else doing and is what they are doing important enough that it justifies the daily IED losses?" Justify the losses? No - the end state justifies the losses (or not, if we cut and run), and that's the issue of the day.
Anyhow - give all due credit to the guys who "hit the streets". But take nothing away from the rest of the folks who are there, far from home, under fire, and getting the job done.
Any idea what the rough ratio between combat troops and support troops is? How many of the 150 000 or so would be combat troops?
My uninformed guess would be somewhere between 1:1 and 1:2, meaning somewhere between 50 000 and 75 000 combat troops.
Thanks for the info.
News Item: Cheney Ratchets Up Verbal Assault on Majority of Americans
The Bush Administration this week continued to ratchet up its rhetoric against the 63% of Americans who disagree with Administration conduct of the war in Iraq and the 57% of Americans who believe that the Administration misused intelligence to justify their preconceived plans for the invasion of Iraq
Bush has called those who accused him of manipulating pre-war intelligence “deeply irresponsible.” Last week Vice President Cheney emerged from his bunker to label those who disagreed with his views as “dishonest and reprehensible” and further accused them of “cynical and pernicious falsehoods.” Yesterday Cheney, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, took the rhetoric up a notch, describing Americans who disagree with his opinions as “shameless and corrupt.”
Latest polls show Bush’s approval rating among Americans at 34% and further indicate that only 40% of Americans consider Bush to be “honest and ethical.” Cheney’s approval rating hovers at an abysmal 19%; only 29% of Americans consider Cheney to be “honest and ethical.” More importantly, polls this week show that 57% of Americans believe that Bush and Cheney deliberately misused pre-war intelligence to justify the Iraq invasion, 63% think that Bush is mismanaging the war effort, and that these percentages are continuing to increase. A further disquieting fact for the Administration is that most Americans, including even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believe that the Bush strategy in Iraq is creating new terrorists faster than we can kill them.
Critics are split on whether the Bush/Cheney strategy of calling the nearly two thirds of Americans that disagree with them “irresponsible, reprehensible and dishonest, shameless and corrupt” will help their approval ratings.
White House operatives are carefully watching the polls to determine if their policy of lashing out against the clear majority of Americans who disagree with them on Iraq moves public opinion back in their favor. If it does, sources indicate that they may be open to bolder initiatives. They are said to be considering reacting to the 89% of Americans polled who consider Cheney the “human embodiment of evil” by having Cheney call them “witless troglodytes.” Karl Rove is rumored to have suggested an even stronger reaction to the 78% of Americans polled who consider Bush to be an “amiable dunce,” having Bush refer to them as “pustulent whores.” Sources say that there is indecision about whether to have Scott McClellan or Ken Mehlman deliver the White House message that the 63% of Americans who think Bush is mismanaging the war are “gonadally challenged.”
In an increasingly bad sign for the Republicans, 67% of Americans polled responded that they viewed Pat Robertson as the “sole voice of reason” in the Republican Party, though those polling numbers were taken prior to Robertson calling for his close friend God to assassinate the President of Venezuela, to destroy the town of Dover, PA, and prior to this past weekends gratuitous pimping of Jesus by Robertson on the 700 Club to raise money for his political action committee.
Asked to comment on these recent developments Bush, in Mongolia for a joint appearance with an Emu, encouraged Americans to wear the purple heart band-aids “in honor of the 2 purple hearts won by that coward John Murtha.” The band aids, decorated with a purple colored heart, were developed and worn by Republicans at their National Convention to mock John Kerry’s purple hearts, and are a common visual device used by Republicans to poke fun at the bravery of American soldiers with whom they disagree. Bush, sporting one of the band-aids on his forehead, encouraged all Americans to join him in mocking Murtha’s “so-called bravery.” Seeing Bush off at the airport, the President of Mongolia issued a brief statement regarding Bush’s visit which was later translated as “What a pompous asshole!”
Thanks for the detailed answer to my question, but may I have a 'follow-up'?
Could we volunteer phil to serve as 'lead' for future vehicle convoys ? By his above posting he appears to be clinically brain-dead already, but I'm sure he would want to serve his country to the best of his limited abilities, were he still able to formuate rational concepts.
Just asking.Posted by dougf at November 23, 2005 12:26 AM
Actually if I remember correctly the ratio of combat arms to support is 1 in 7 for the Army, 1 in 5 for the Marines, 1 in 15 or 20 for the Air Force. Now being the Iraq counts as foward deployed the ratios are probably a little less but I would guess that they are no where close to one for one.Posted by jamerlina at November 23, 2005 12:32 AM
jamerlina, interesting, thank you!
Air force would obviously be higher since it takes one or two pilots to fly many planes but lots of people to keep them in the air.
If it is indeed something like 1:5 for Army/Marines, that would mean if 160 000 troops are in Iraq then they are roughly 130 000 support and 30 000 combat. That does sound about right, since I know there are around 3000-6000 involved in offensive operations in Anbar, which would represent 10-20% of the total combat force.
Phil, get back to smoking pot and watching old reruns of Fahrenheit-911. Only incompetent presidents, like our prior one, govern according to poll results.Posted by jack at November 23, 2005 03:40 AM
Phil, make sure you give us the whole story when using polls to justify your position, OK ... especially when using them in a work of fiction, like your last post.
I would be happy to forward the latest information on Iraq Operations as it becomes cleared for release. To prevent an overflow of requests, perhaps Greyhawk or a web administrator could send me their e-mail and I can forward the releases to them at the same time they go to the media. I also encourage everyone to look at www.grd.usace.army.mil and go to DVIDSHUB.net to get the latest information. These are just 2 sources but they are current. I am currently serving in Baghdad on my second tour in Iraq (Yes I volunteered to come back). I am proud of the men and women I serve with and have great hopes for the Iraqi people. v/r CPT BPosted by CPT B at November 23, 2005 02:32 PM
Hey Capt B, will that include the press releases about how U.S. troops used WP solely for illumination purposes in Fallujah, and how WP is not a chemical weapon except when Saddam uses it? Sorry, but the U.S. military is about as credible as "Baghdad Bob" these days.Posted by Wilson Kolb at November 25, 2005 06:53 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(9) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)