Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bush to expand military

The lead of this story is all about how Bush has finally admitted that we're not winning in Iraq, after being roundly criticized for such weird circumlocutions as saying he was "disappointed by the pace of success."

But the meat of the story is that Bush has finally decided that making the military large enough to sustain commitments like Iraq is a good idea.

This would be the same plan that Republicans shot down in 2004 and 2005 -- when it might have made a difference in Iraq -- and as recently as this summer, when it was obvious to everyone else that the military was being stretched too thin.

It's yet another example of Bush's "too little, too late" weakness, where he avoids making hard decisions until it's too late for them to be relevant.

A substantial military expansion will take years and would not be meaningful in the near term in Iraq. But it would begin to address the growing alarm among commanders about the state of the armed forces. Although the president offered no specifics, other U.S. officials said the administration is preparing plans to bolster the nation's permanent active-duty military with as many as 70,000 additional troops.

Too late though it may be for Iraq, the expansion is a good long-term idea, and 70,000 troops -- the equivalent of three Army divisions -- is a serious force boost. It exceeds the 40,000-soldier increase that John Kerry called for during his 2004 campaign.

But don't expect a dramatic difference even when all the soldiers are trained and on duty. The Army is already 30,000 soldiers above authorized strength; the proposal would make those additions permanent and add up to 40,000 more troops on top of it. So while the 70,000 figure is bandied about, the proposal represents a 40,000-soldier increase over current levels. Still good, but not eye-poppingly so.

Separately, reports that Bush is leaning toward a short-term "surge" in Iraq -- sending in up to 30,000 additional troops for half a year or more -- has met with unanimous opposition from the Joint Chiefs, who fear the mission is vague, the surge too small, the time frame too short and the downsides too large.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did he "admit" any such thing? He repeated General Pace's comment...."we're not winning; we're not losing." Sounds like a draw at this point in time to me. Sounds like we're not finished to me. Funny how libs and Dems take the one part of that phrase and make it into headlines....but never the other part of that phrase. The headline could just as easily been, "President Bush says we're not losing in Iraq." But hey, it IS the liberal press doing the headlines, isn't it??? Afraid we won't be seeing that headline.


12/20/2006 4:38 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Uh, I wrote "he admitted we're not winning." That's exactly what he did. And the reason it's approached that way is because it's in stark contrast to what he said just over a month ago, when he emphatically insisted we were winning.

12/22/2006 10:11 AM  

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