Thursday, February 01, 2007

Surging Assumptions

[Posted by reader_iam]

Am I the only one who assumed that the 21,500 additional troops called for in the "surge" (boy, I hate that term) referred specifically to combat soldiers, tasked to do whatever combat duties were required to accomplish whatever specific goals we're supposed to be achieving? And that of course there would be additional support troops involved as well? I'm thinking so, since there appears to be widespread surprise emerging that such a "surge" might be larger when support personnel were included. (I first noticed this just a few minutes ago while channel surfing cable news channels.)

I'm not saying there were no grounds for people to think that--for example, I note that this Air Force News article points to the following testimony (which I don't recall catching, and wonder how many people really did, at the time) before the House Armed Services Committee:
At a Jan. 23 hearing, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker said he believed the 21,500 increase included four support battalions. “Right now, we do not anticipate there will be increased combat service support requirements over what is now embedded inside of the brigade combat teams we have,” Schoomaker said.

What I am is surprised that if the people advocating the surge really thought--given that there's normally some sort of ratio between combat and support troops--that a substantial portion of the reinforcements being sent to Iraq were support, they didn't point out how few "fighters" we were actually dispatching and demand more. A corollary to that would be: If the people against the surge thought likewise, why didn't they say that, given that the relatively small number of combat troops would render the surge merely a gesture, why bother?

I'm really just thinking aloud here, folks--out of some surprise at the surprise, and also questioning the origins and validity of my own assumptions, especially given what I have read in the linked article.

Now, of course, we're hearing that President Bush and possibly military personnel were either not being forthcoming, spinning or outright lying. Here's my question: What did you assume? I'm especially interested in hearing from military people or people with some sort of military expertise, whether from seriously studying military structure and practice or whatever (though of course all comments are welcome). How have actual military people been interpreting what was said with regard to the specific troop number during the ongoing surge debate? And again--how about you?

Update: I have made minor edits to this post strictly for clarity (for example, added commas, "that's," and the word "they" in one instance, and notably in paragraph three), but in no way in terms of content or tone.