I read the article that I posted because I thought it was interesting. Sometimes, when I get bored and don’t have anything to do, I surf some of the newspapers Op-Ed sections, just to get a sense of what people are thinking back home. I really enjoy the New York Times, and the Washington Post. I even read Al Jazeera, The San Diego Union Tribune (Holy crap, me a conservative?) And the Las Vegas Sun. It’s always nice to get around.
So, I was surfing the Washington post when I stumbled on this editorial about staying the course. I thought it was really interesting that somebody was actually implying that we should be studying an increase in troop levels, instead of discussing a drawdown. I have to agree with that, I think we should be talking about an increase.
I am not sure how long ago it was, but in one of my rants, I talked about what happens when the Pentagon draws down troop levels. Well, in the article, it said that there are approx 150,000 troops in Iraq, and roughly 2.6 million people in the services. So, let me shed some light on these numbers, because as you read it, you think, well, damn, there are lots of people we can send.
First off, take 95% of the total strength of the Navy out of the numbers. Navy ships float off shore, fly in the sky above Iraq, and work in numerous specialty fields across the spectrum, but you can’t say that just being within 400 miles of the Persian Gulf counts as a troop movement. Most of these Sailors will never see the ground here, because the job they hold doesn’t bring them closer to the street. Yes, the Navy has certain personnel on the ground, but somebody has to be on the ships, subs, and other Navy related jobs around the globe. You can’t take the crew of the Carl Vinson and put them on security duty around Diwaniyah.
Next, eliminate 80 percent of the air force structure. The same problem exists here as it does with the Navy. It takes an estimated 3 hours of maintenance for every hour a plane is in the air, and it takes a small platoon of people to keep these birds running day in and day out. Remember, the Air Force is flying some of the most technologically sophisticated gear ever built by man, so keeping them running is a priority. Also, they your not going to see the Air Force guys in force, armed and attacking Objective Alpha, so you might as well remove that total.
So what does that leave you with? Naturally the Army and Marine Corps. The problem here is that it takes a lot of people to equip and prepare the modern infantry unit. More so now than ever before, you might need a battalion of men to keep an battalion of men in the field. Somebody has to bring the ammo, make the food, prepare the camps, supply, ship, and account for millions of dollars worth of equipment. I f I can stretch this out, almost 70 percent of the Army strength is focused on keeping the other 30 percent in a state of combat readiness. The similar thing can be said of the Marine Corps.
So, where do these extra people come from? It’s simple really, but as the armed forces become more technologically sophisticated, you need more administrative support and logistical support to run it. Basically, you need to put the fobbit on the street. (GASP!) Now, the incredible fobbit is the guy who lives on the Forward Operating Base. Typically, he is an administrative guy, or a staff guy, or a supply clerk, armorer, mail clerk and cook. These willing or unwilling warriors make up a huge number of people. Yes, some of them get off the camp and participate in patrols and stuff, but a larger number of these personnel don’t, and that is where you make up the difference. If you think about it, yes there are 150,000 people in the theatre, but maybe only 20-30,000 of them are actually combat arms guys. So, that leaves a significant gap that can be filled quickly. Finished with that report? You are on patrol. That vehicle not getting fixed today? OK, you’re on convoy today. Its not payday, so disbursing goes down to 50% and the rest, get your gear. You could add a significant presence on the street if you did this.
Now, I understand that these people are not completely trained for the streets, but that can be answered easily. Every unit has a training program, and every unit needs to use that element to train there people. I mean, that’s what we get paid to do, right? Fight and win wars. Imagine how much we could get done, if we had an extra 30,000 personnel on the streets. Imagine how we could control the streets, the crimes, the murders, if we had extra people.
We don’t need less people on the streets, we need more people. The drawdown is a mistake, a political decision to ensure the Republicans are in the White House and MSNBC has something to bitch about, in HD no doubt. What we need to do, is more efficiently use the forces we have. Fobbit’s be damned, its time to earn your paycheck.