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Much is being made of this now widely circulated report:
Study: Army Stretched To Breaking PointFunny though, no major news agencies picked up this Pentagon report:
By Robert Burns, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2006 – Army re-enlistments in 2005 were the highest they've been in five years, with more than 69,500 soldiers choosing to continue their service, the Secretary of the Army said here yesterday.Wonder why that report didn't make the papers? Now back to the one that did:
This surplus in retention made up for recruiting shortfalls the Army has faced, Francis J. Harvey said at a Pentagon news conference.
The Army recruited more than 73,000 soldiers in the last fiscal year and has met its recruiting objectives for the last seven months, Harvey said. The number of recruits who have signed an enlistment contract to date is almost 25 percent higher than it was at the same point a year earlier, he said.
Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency.That's certainly debatable; however, the stated goal in Iraq isn't to "break the back of the insurgency" - It's to hand over responsibility for security to the Iraqi forces.
Operation Koa Canyon Creeps Across Iraqi Valley
The latest in a series of offensives in the western Euphrates River Valley has entered its second week, with a combined force of Marines and Iraqi soldiers “making their way inch-by-inch through caves, fields, wadis and islands.”
According to a Marine Corps news release, Operation Koa Canyon (“Wadi Aljundi” in Arabic) has resulted in more than 4,300 artillery and mortar rounds, among other weapons, being found and destroyed.
There have been no reports of casualties.
And (Wall Street Journal, subscription only)
At Perilous Outpost, U.S., Iraqi Troops Work Toward TrustMeanwhile:
By Michael M. Phillips, Staff Reporter Of The Wall Street Journal
RAMADI, Iraq -- In a cramped, sandbagged emplacement atop Observation Post Horea, Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Titzer fixed his stare to the west, along the road where insurgents conceal powerful bombs to hit U.S. convoys.
Next to him, Pvt. Sa'ad Warad Salem, an Iraqi army infantryman, watched the buildings to the north, where insurgent snipers wait to pick off any soldier who raises his head above the guard post's bulletproof glass shield.
It was a moment of mutual dependence. "If he were to miss something, we could get hit by a rocket-propelled grenade or small-arms fire," Cpl. Titzer, a 22-year-old from Fairfield, Ill., said of Pvt. Sa'ad, a 21-year-old from Basra. "We put a lot of trust in [Iraqi soldiers], actually."
American troops in Iraq have long complained that their Iraqi counterparts weren't up to the job of defeating the insurgency. The mantra of President Bush's Iraq policy has been that American forces will stand down when Iraqi forces stand up.
In this decrepit outpost in the heart of Ramadi -- perhaps the most dangerous city in Iraq for U.S. troops -- there are signs that the mistrust is fading. Every day, Lance Cpl. Titzer and his fellow Marines are relying more on Iraqi soldiers.
About half of the 102 Iraqi battalions deployed across the country are capable of leading counterinsurgency operations, provided they have some logistical and medical support from American troops, according to Lt. Col. Fred Wellman, spokesman for the Multi-National Security Transition Command -- Iraq. That's up from just 30 battalions six months ago, he says. By the end of the year, he says, every Iraqi battalion should be capable of taking the lead in such operations -- although it will be far longer before those units can operate without U.S. support.
Ramadi, with a population of about 400,000, straddles the Euphrates River west of Baghdad and is the capital of Anbar Province. The region is the core of the Sunni insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi government.
As recently as late November, Iraqi army units in Ramadi never ventured into the heart of the city on their own. Now, U.S. commanders say, four of the six Iraqi infantry companies are capable of conducting foot patrols and raids alone, relying on the Marines only for armored transport, medical care for the wounded and covering fire from observation posts. About 10% of operations in central Ramadi are all-Iraqi events; 60% are jointly run with the Marines; and the rest are U.S.-only actions, the U.S. commanders say.
U.S. officials in Ramadi hope that with support from local Sunni leaders who have grown tired of the conflict, they will soon be able to mix Shiite and Sunni soldiers to fight insurgents, but not each other. Col. Gronski says he sees some hopeful signs of a more open attitude toward the coalition among local Sunni sheiks, imams and former army officers, who might not have been willing to talk to him two months ago.
Ramadi's Sunnis have formed a provincial security council of local leaders, and at least one key sheik has expressed regret publicly for having allowed into the local anti-U.S. resistance such extremist elements as al Qaeda in Iraq. While the number of Anbar residents in the military itself remains tiny, 761 Ramadi residents have signed up so far this month to join the U.S.-supported Iraqi police. The sheiks encouraged locals to sign up, something that would have been unimaginable not long ago. And U.S. officers suspect that the suicide bombing that killed 27 police recruits and two U.S. servicemen in early January has deepened rifts between al Qaeda supporters and local insurgents.
Pvt. Sa'ad, who shared the rooftop post with Cpl. Titzer, says the Iraqi army is well-trained and ready to fight. As he ate lentils and sipped boxed orange juice with his fellow Iraqi soldiers one recent evening, he argued that Iraqi troops already have the skills to take on the insurgency alone. What they lack, he said, is the necessary equipment, such as air power, hospitals and armored vehicles. U.S. commanders say armored Humvees should begin arriving in Ramadi for the Iraqi troops soon. Until then, says one U.S. officer, the Marines will have to "soccer mom" the Iraqi soldiers around the city.
On Jan. 15, Sheik Anwar abd al-Razak al-Kharbit, a Sunni leader and member of the provincial security council, sat down in Ramadi over tea and cookies with the Shiite prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., commander of U.S. forces in the region. U.S. officials believe Sheik Anwar to be influential with the local resistance and hope he speaks on their behalf. His presence at the public meeting was seen as evidence that many Ramadi residents, although they may loathe the U.S. as occupiers, could be ready to do business with the American and Iraqi governments.
The Americans found the sheik's comments refreshing, especially his admission that it had been an error to allow "terrorists into our areas."
Local soldiers, Sheik Anwar said, would fight the extremists once the thorn of American occupation was removed. "We have to work together toward the complete withdrawal of coalition forces and their replacement with Iraqi forces," said the sheik, dressed in a flowing gold and black robe. Locals, he argued, would be better equipped to hunt down foreign insurgents. "People from Mecca know all the roads in Mecca," he said. The Anbar recruits, he said in an interview after the meeting, should include members of the local armed resistance, but not al Qaeda members.
Gen. Casey promised a response within two weeks.
Fewest U.S. Troops In Iraq Since Summer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of U.S. troops in Iraq has been cut to the lowest level since last summer, when a buildup for election protection expanded the force to about 160,000, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
There are now about 136,000 troops in Iraq, according to Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman.
He said this meant that the extra forces in place during the October constitutional referendum and the December parliamentary elections have been removed and a rotation of major combat units has largely been completed.
Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said last month that he expects the troop levels to be brought down further, to about 130,000 by the beginning of March. He and other officials have said still more cuts could be made later in the year if conditions permit -- including the availability of increasing numbers of Iraqi troops.
While over on the other side:
Rifts Deepen Within Iraq's InsurgencyMore:
Council of militant groups reportedly replaces al-Zarqawi
BAGHDAD -- In a further sign of the rifts emerging within Iraq's insurgency, Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has stepped aside as the head of a new council of radical groups in favor of an Iraqi, according to a posting on a Web site used by Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups.
The statement's authenticity could not be independently verified. It said Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, "who is Iraqi," had taken over from al-Zarqawi as "emir" of the new Mujahedeen Shura, or Council, which groups six extremist organizations including Al Qaeda and whose creation was announced last week.
The formation of the council and the appointment of an Iraqi to lead it come at a time of deepening divisions within Iraq's insurgency over ways to respond to the new realities of post-election Iraq and how to prepare for the day when U.S. troops start going home.
Most notably, some Iraqi nationalist insurgent groups are turning against al-Zarqawi and his foreign Arab volunteers, whose spectacular suicide bombings have served the insurgency's goals well but whose Islamic extremism has come to be seen as a liability by rebels whose aim increasingly is to secure a role for Sunni Iraqis in the new political order.
A statement announcing the formation of the council a week ago, issued by al-Zarqawi's chief spokesman, explained that the council's purpose was to "unite the approach of the mujahedeen . . . in order to dismiss all the differences and disagreements and controversies," an acknowledgment of rifts that have opened within the insurgency in recent months.
Though there was no way of independently verifying the information, the Web site is the main one used by Al Qaeda in Iraq to post news, claims of responsibility and videotapes of attacks. Since the council was formed, the claims of responsibility that previously were posted by Al Qaeda have been made in the name of the Mujahedeen Council.
IRAQ’S most wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, goes to sleep every night wearing a suicide belt packed with explosives, according to a leading insurgent who met him two weeks ago.But perhaps they won't be Americans:
“He never takes it off,” said Sheikh Abu Omar al-Ansari, leader of a Sunni resistance group called Jeish al-Taiifa al-Mansoura (Army of the Victorious Sect).
“He told me: ‘I would rather blow myself up and die as a martyr — and kill a few Americans along the way — than be arrested and humiliated by them’.”
While the American embassy today resumed its talks with the Sunni leading politicians, 6 Iraqi militant groups announced that they will unite their forces and join the rest of resident of Anbar and Salahiddin in fighting al-Qeda. The new militant groups included the Islamic army, the Anbar martyr’s brigades and the 1920 revolution brigades.More:
Another sign of division between Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda operatives emerged Monday when insurgents in Ramadi announced a pact against their former al Qaeda allies -- which prompted a round of assassinations between the two sides.And on the other other side, Democrats have a report too:
Reuters reported that Sunni Arabs in Ramadi have begun targeting the terrorist organization in the wake of a devastating al Qaeda attack on Ramadi police recruits on Jan. 5 that killed scores. The larger picture is one of divergent interests: Iraqi insurgents who once allied with al Qaeda against U.S. forces are now looking in part to negotiations in Baghdad to achieve their political goals.
Senator Jack Reed today joined former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Secretary of Defense William Perry in a press conference for the release of the report "The US Military: Under Strain and at Risk."To recap the facts: Army re-enlistments in 2005 were the highest they've been in five years. The Army met its recruiting objectives for the last seven months, and the number of recruits who have signed an enlistment contract to date is almost 25 percent higher than it was at the same point a year earlier.
The report is a damning analysis of the effects of Bush Administration policies on our nation's military. By failing to adequately plan for post-conflict Iraq, failing to send enough forces to accomplish the mission with an acceptable level of risk, and failing to adequately equip the Americans sent into harm's way, the Bush Administration has put our ground troops under enormous strain that, if not soon relieved, will have "highly-corrosive and potentially long-term effects on the force."
"For months, Congressman John Murtha and others have warned about the impact of the war in Iraq on our military, particularly our ground forces. The report prepared by Secretary Perry, Secretary Albright, and their colleagues supports these warnings and identifies the serious problems our military faces in recruiting, retention, and equipment readiness," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Same guy who wrote the latest "Broken Army" report...was pretty much claiming it was broken in 2000.
I think maybe the guy should take a trip to Russia and see what a "Really Broken" Army looks like.Posted by Soldier's Dad at January 26, 2006 12:04 AM
If we capture al zarqawi, can we bring back Lyndie England for an encore performance? I think that would be fitting, and maybe why he fears being captured...Posted by Curt at January 26, 2006 02:56 AM
Nice compilation of information, G. I feel better already!Posted by Some Soldier's Mom at January 26, 2006 03:29 AM
Forgot to say....and it needs saying
The "Broken Army" decimated the 4th Largest Army in to World in a matter of weeks. The only Army with a chance in hell against the US Army is the Chinese.
I'd bet serious money that 50% of the Chinese Army would desert if they heard the US Army was coming.
Posted by Soldier's Dad at January 26, 2006 04:22 AM
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