American forces in Iraq are still far short of the military deployment the United States had in Vietnam. U.S. troop numbers in Vietnam increased from less than 20,000 in early 1964 to more than half a million by 1969. But the difference between the force levels – and the two situations — is a lot less than most people think. There is, after all, not just one U.S. army in Iraq.
The previous quote is meant to provide a better understanding concerning the “allied” forces currently in Iraq.
Today, January 23rd, General Petraeus is being questioned by the Senate Armed Forces Committee on how he will direct the pending operations in Iraq, including the “surge” called for by President Bush.
General Petraues was expected to discuss the importance of private Iraqi and foreign contractors in ensuring the success of the surge. Read this article in Bloomberg, published prior to the beginning of the hearing, and this piece by Thomas Ricks, author of Fiasco and a reporter who has been covering the Pentagon and military issues for some twenty years, for background leading up to today’s hearing.
You can also follow the hearings live via CNN Pipeline #3
What’s interesting about these hearings is that on multiple occasions during the hearings General Petraeus has acknowledged that private security contractors may be necessary to ensure the success of the surge.
By his own admission, Petraeus confesses it could take 120,000 troops to secure Baghdad, although there are just over 80,000 available for Baghdad if one includes both MNF-I and Iraqi military forces.
This suggests that 40,000, or one third of the force necessary to secure Baghdad will be private contractors, who have as of yet never been held to any legal standard for crimes committed in the Iraq theatre.
Petraeus even acknowledged that his own security, when he returns to the field, may be ensured, not by US military forces, but by private security contractors, as has happened on his previous tours.
Perhaps it should offer some solace that,
To learn more about our current forces in Iraq, follow the link in the quotes.
Although it seems assured that General Petraeus will be confirmed, it reamins to be seen how Democrats and the rest of the Senate might respond, if at all, to depending on private security contractors, who’s allegiances and even names are currently difficult, if not impossible to determine currently.