30 June 2003

Descending into quagmire
At 10 per 1,000 population, the point of intersection between levels two and three, Quinlivan's numbers skyrocket to 240,000. (Interestingly, just in Baghdad, where the population is roughly 5 million, there are 55,000 troops, producing a ratio of 11 per 1,000.) Matching the British experience in Malaysia and Northern Ireland at 20 per 1,000 doubles this total to 480,000, which is the total authorized strength of the active US Army. Clearly, any of these levels are impossible to sustain given the demands for and on people. Even level two ratios may be impossible, given that five of the Army's 10 active divisions currently are engaged in Iraq.

At the onset of an insurgency the government, whether it's an occupying power or what, always denounces the guerilla attacks as banditry. At the onset of a conquest the conquering power explains in vast detail how this is not really a conquest. We were told that the occupation forces would be light and be needed only briefly. We were told t would be a cakewalk. We were told the invasion would be greeted with flowers. That seems not to be happening. Each of those reasons has failed. At each stage of this Iraq project we've been given reasons why Iraq would be an exception to previous historical experience.

If the US is planning 3 years to raise an Iraqi army then the 2 years deadline is already as dead as the 6 month deadline. The previous historical experience is that you need force ratios between 10:1000 and 20:1000 to suppress an insurgency. The numbers just do not add up. And the scary incident reported by Time may tell us why no-one ever bothered with the math.

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