Friday, July 04, 2008

Change You Can Believe In

With emphasis on you, that is. I'm not feeling particularly credulous today. The AP has performed a minor public service by assembling a number of "statements" from St. Barack on his plans for the American military presence in Mesopotamia after he's elected (and he will be ... I can't see my fellow 'Murkans installing Ol' Grampaw Angry-Pants as their new Dear Leader). I was looking into this business after hearing a piece on the subject on NPR as I was leaving the day job yesterday afternoon. My interest was tweaked by one of those block phrases that we all hear so often that they become, effectively, single words that aren't really heard at all: "combat troops." The Obam-ster was being quoted as insisting that he wasn't really drifting hawkish, not at all: he was still going to be pulling a brigade of combat troops out of Iraq every single month, leaving no combat troops at all after 16 such months.

So I got to thinking ... why the combat distinction? What other sorts of "troops" are there? Truck drivers? Driving one of the Legion's trucks has to be one of the more dangerous things you can do in Iraq. A statement from the Obama web site (cited in the AP story) seems to make a comforting suggestion:
Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats ...
But then, something a little less warm 'n' fuzzy:
if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
Later on, it gets even more Dubya-esque:
In a March speech, he said: "We will have to make tactical adjustments, listening to our commanders on the ground, to ensure that our interests in a stable Iraq are met, and to make sure that our troops are secure."

- In June, on MSNBC, he said: "I've also consistently said that I will consult with military commanders on the ground and that we will always be open to the possibility of tactical adjustments."
Ah, yes, the infallible commanders on the ground that the current Decider invokes at the drop of a supplementary funding authorization. I wonder who Obama's Petraeus will be? Don't be too quick to assume it won't be, simply, Petraeus; I have no reason to think that a good, tame, photogenic, political general -- with a Roman-style name, no less -- is all that easy to find. Obama may have to get used to the idea of eating leftovers.

I also did some math. Obama can get all the combat troops out of Iraq in 16 months, at a "brigade" a month. That must mean there's 16 brigades of combat troops. So, what's a "brigade?" Being a mere softass civilian, I had to do a little research. Fortunately, the internets make that easy:
A brigade is a military unit that is typically composed of two to five regiments or battalions, depending on the era and nationality of a given army. Usually, a brigade is a sub-component of a division, a larger unit consisting of two or more brigades; however, some brigades are classified as a separate brigade and operate independently from the traditional division structure. The typical NATO standard brigade consists of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 troops.
Let's suppose St. Obama's talking about a "standard NATO brigade." For 4,000 to 5,000 people, let's use the middle of the range: 4,500. Sixteen times that is 72,000. And we currently have, let's see, something like 140,000 "military personnel" in Iraq, give or take a surge here and there. The result: Obama, the antiwar candidate, the peace candidate, wants to remove half the Americans from Iraq, and he wants to take a year-and-a-half to do it. And that's assuming that the commanders on the ground don't advise him otherwise in the meantime.

Tu - tu - tu - tu - tu - turn to face the strange ... changes ... look out, all you rock-and-rollers ... Oh, yeah.


Thomas Daulton said...

Just drifted over here from IOZ and I think I may stay. Impressive blog. You barely even commented on this, though:

if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region

...yes, I realize that al-Qaida means "the base", but what exactly does it mean when al-Qaeda "builds a base within Iraq" ??

What exactly would a physical al-Qaida "base" look like ?

Does al-Qaida actually have the $600 Million to spend on building a decent base in Baghdad, since that's apparently the going price these days? If Donald Rumsfeld and David Petraeus are in charge of identifying this al-Qaida "base", they will probably be looking for a large clear grassy area where the battalions of thousands of red-coated al-Qaida shock troops can practice their rifle handling and marching drills.

Al-Qaeda are terrorists, remember ? ! ? ! The whole point of being a terrorist is that you don't congregate in large bases and sit around waiting for the recon drones and Tomahawks to find you.

What would an al-Qaida base really look like? It'd be a bunch of unshaven guys trying to blend into the local population who shift their meeting places continually when they bother to meet at all. So... on further consideration, Obama decides that Iraq is riddled with al-Qaida "bases" and keeps all the troops in.

Brian said...

I agree with thomas...another great place to vent my cynicism and misnathropy :)

thomas....exactly. We will be there 100 years, because there are ALWAYS Al Qaeda bases. At least The Senescent Warmonger is more honest about it, and more importantly HIS base is equally honest in their blood lust.

Jim Wetzel said...

Gentlemen, thank you for your kind words. I don't think al-Qaeda -- assuming that any such thing exists -- will ever be able to establish a decent, American-quality base. What kind of an O-Club can it have, without any beer or liquor? What kind of a PX, without that first one-hand magazine? Naaah, it'll never get off the ground.

Mort Chien said...

Hi Jim,
I still drop in to see how your temperature is. I got a kick out of "Grampa Angry Pants". Mind if I borrow the phrase? By the way, whatza "Murkan" and how did you become a "fellow Murkan"?

Mort Chien