Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Surge: An update.

We're going into the fourth month of the surge and the insurgents seem to have made another one of their characteristic adjustments. It looks like we're back to square one again: The number of bodies showing up in the streets of Baghdad with gunshot wounds and showing signs of torture are almost back to pre-sure levels, gun battles are raging between Shiites and Shiites and between Sunnis and Shiites and US forces against Sunnis and Shiites, car bombs are going off all over Iraq, including in the previously tranquil Kurdish north, and we've just hit another mile stone, having just surpassed the 3,400 mark in deaths of US soldiers.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't it seem like the more troops we pump into Iraq, the worse things are getting -- pretty much just like everyone thought would happen except for the blue sky types in the White House and Frederick Kagan? Serious breeches of security inside the Green Zone, like the suicide bomber in the parliament, and shells raining down on the "heavily fortified" enclave have become so routine that the State Department has issued flak jackets to its employees and warned them to stay in doors as much as they can. [AP]

Even as Dick Cheney was making his "surprise visit" to Baghdad, the press had to be shuffled off to a bunker when explosions rattled the embassy's windows. Cheney's spokeswoman, Lee Anne McBride, reassured everyone, however, that the vice-president's meeting "was not disturbed and he was not moved." Indeed, why would he have to be disturbed or moved when he's got 160,000 body guards?

The way things are going these days, 160,000 body guards doesn't look like it's going to be enough. As we send 4000 troops in the Sunni Triangle of Death to search for the three missing solders from the 10th Mountain Division, things are falling apart in Diyala, where the commander there, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, says that he does not have enough troops: "I laid out a plan for Gen. Ordinero on the numbers of forces I need. . . Gen. Ordinero intends to give me additional forces as they become available," Mixon says. [AP]

Obviously, Maj. Gen. Mixon doesn't know Gen. Ordinero very well. He doesn't like people telling him about the "bad shit," he doesn't want to hear it. And Ordinero is not going to want to hear that yesterday insurgent mortaring damaged or destroyed about a dozen helicopters at the big air base in Baquba. You're on your own General Mixon. Maybe, the Iraqis can help you out.

Of course, they're still trying to figure out how to fight. Alyssa Rubin reported in the NYT this week that the Iraqi Fifth Division is still having some trouble getting off the ground in Diyala. General Ali, the division commander, says his troops just need a few things to get their shit together. "We know we have command and control responsibility, but we still lack many things: We need artillery and air support, and logistics support, too, and intelligence experience that the coalition has and advanced equipment they have and we lack," he says. Other than that, they're good to go.

My God, if this is any indication of the way things are headed, I think we'd better not wait until September for General Patreaus' report to Congress. By the way, if you're looking for Stephen Hadley, he'll be in the White House bunker working on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, where he's doing a heck of a job. From now on direct all your complaints about Iraq to the "War Czar."


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