Thursday, April 26, 2007

Worse Before Better

The merry-go-round from hell keeps spinning faster and faster, leaving us in the position of having to choose between trying to hold the painted ponies together while our limbs are ripped off by the centrifugal force or jumping off while we still have a chance of landing as something more like an intact human and less like a meat-colored skidmark while hoping the painted ponies that will fly off as a result don't hit us in the head.
Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, depicted the situation there as "exceedingly complex and very tough" Thursday and said the U.S. effort might become more difficult before it gets easier...

He said that the increasing use of car bombs and suicide attacks, plus the greater concentration of U.S. troops among the population, has "led to greater U.S. losses" as well as increased Iraqi military casualties...

Petraeus also said that while the fledgling Iraqi government is often billed as a unity government among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, it actually is not. "It is not a government of national unity. Rather, it is one comprised of political leaders from different parties that often default to narrow agendas and a zero-sum approach to legislation," the general said.

As for waiting for the Iraqis to stand up... how's that going, again? Nobody's sure.
In its latest quarterly report to Congress on Iraq, delivered in March, the Pentagon said the US-led coalition was achieving the goals it set for the number of freshly trained forces, including the army, police, facilities protection officers, and the border patrol...

However, the report relies on broad generalizations to describe the relative readiness of particular units. Some units are described in the report as "conducting operations," others as "conducting operations at varying levels." ...

But the reports do not assess the loyalty, range of skills, or capabilities of those units. Even the whereabouts of all of the security forces that have completed training is unclear, according to Olga Oliker, a senior policy analyst at the government-funded Rand Corporation.

"No one knows how many Iraqi security personnel there are today," she told the oversight panel on Thursday. For example, she added in an interview, "it is unknown how many have died or how many have deserted."

Meanwhile, back in the states,
Virtually all of the U.S.-based Army combat brigades are rated as unready to deploy, Army officials say, and to meet the immediate needs in Iraq and Afghanistan they are finding it necessary to transfer personnel and gear to those units now first in line to deploy.

"I am not satisfied with the readiness of our non-deployed forces," Schoomaker told the Senate Armed Services Committee, noting that the increased demands in Iraq and Afghanistan "aggravate that" and increase his concern. "We are in a dangerous period," said Schoomaker, adding that he recently met with his Chinese counterpart, who made it clear that China is scrutinizing U.S. capabilities.

The Marine Corps commandant, Gen. James T. Conway, said in the same hearing that his chief concern is that Marines are not training for other types of conflicts beyond the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan -- such as conventional ground wars.

I seriously want to live in Dick Cheney's world for a while, where bad is good and death is life and everything is going according to plan.

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