Everybody's talking about it, but few seem to realize how exquisite a maneuver reducing U.S forces in Iraq is – unless you just want to cut and run as does Pennsylvania Dem. John Murtha. It isn't a simple math formula such as, "I think we can replace the U.S. forces man-for-man when the Iraqis are battle-ready" as Iraq’s finance minister Ali Abdul-Amir Allawi has suggested.
Regardless of battle-readiness, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are almost entirely light infantry. They have little armor or artillery, no close air support, virtually no air reconnaissance, a couple of dozen small boats for a navy, and not even the proper bureaucracy to make sure men are even paid. Without all of these, they have no hope of prevailing.
Some American assets can move to Kuwait, such as fighter/bomber support. But even shorter-range helicopter gunships, the awesome AC-130 fixed-wing gunships, and A-10 "Warthogs" must be based in-country.
Why Iraqis are not being trained with and given heavy weapons is a good question, with the apparent reason that if a civil war breaks out we'd rather they have access to nothing bigger than a RPG or mortar.
Obviously that attitude must change. Until the ISF is properly equipped and trained with all the equipment of a modern military, though, we'll have to provide on-site support. This is one reason setting timetables is as dumb as the Bush Administration and military strategists say. A timetable for what?
Michael Fumento is a, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues as well as author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World .
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