Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 9th edition

May 9, 2004: An ordnance specialist of the 748th Explosive Ordnance Detachment checks the underside of two anti-tank mines found in a village outside Ad Dujayl.

May 9, 2002:

Bush faces long wait to build up enough forces against Baghdad

Amid all the debate over the rights and wrongs of a new war against Iraq, the most important point is that it cannot be started yet and probably not for months to come because the forces are simply not in place.

Although two American carrier groups are in the vicinity, their embarked troops amount to only about 4,400 men, far too few to form an invasion force. One brigade of the 101st Air Assault Division remains in Afghanistan but it is too far from the scene to be deployed direct.

Air power is more plentiful. Besides the carrier air groups, each with about 80 combat aircraft, there is an air wing in Turkey, which enforces the no-fly zone in northern Iraq, other aircraft in Saudi Arabia and a growing number in Qatar in the Gulf, where America has just completed a large air base...

When it is remembered that over half a million troops were deployed in the first Iraq war, the majority American, it is obvious how far the force available in the region falls short of what is necessary to mount an offensive strong enough to topple Saddam.

Although his army is only half the strength it was in 1991 and his air force, which then fled to Iran, is weaker still, he is certainly capable of sustaining his power at present. Much larger forces would have to be brought to the region before any commander could approve an invasion plan.

How large a force would be necessary is a matter causing disagreement in Washington.

Read the rest at the Telegraph

May 9, 2003:

Rumsfeld: No Timetable for Leaving Iraq

WASHINGTON — Stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq could keep American military forces in the country for more than a year, the defense secretary and top U.S. commander in Iraq said Friday.

Gen. Tommy Franks (search), who ran the war in Iraq, said it is unclear how large an American force would be required for postwar occupation or how long it would have to stay. He suggested it could be years.

"What the future will hold a year, two, three ahead of us is not exactly knowable," Franks said at a Pentagon news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

"Anyone who thinks they know how long it's going to take is fooling themselves," Rumsfeld added. He said the U.S. will keep "any number of troops that are appropriate and necessary" in Iraq for as long as needed to provide security for reconstruction.

Read the rest at Fox News

May 9, 2004:

What are the contractors doing in Iraq?

The alleged U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, and the suggestion that contract employees may have been among those responsible, has cast a spotlight on the military's extraordinary reliance on civilian contractors to perform even the most sensitive jobs. Consider this: During the first Gulf War, U.S. forces employed one civilian contractor in Iraq for every 60 active-duty personnel. At the start of the current Iraq war, that figure was about one in 10.

Contractors, in Iraq and elsewhere, are doing a lot more than building and maintaining camps, preparing food and doing laundry for troops. They support M1 tanks and Apache helicopters on the battlefield; they train American forces, Army ROTC units and even foreign militaries under contract to the United States. And they have flooded into Iraq to provide the military with security and crime prevention services. Having closely followed this explosion of military contracting since the end of the Cold War, I thought I knew the extent of it. But I have to admit that I did not know the government was also outsourcing the interrogation of military prisoners.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

May 9, 2005:

U.S. doubts Iraq rebels can keep it up

WASHINGTON Insurgents in Iraq are drawing on dozens of stockpiled, bomb-rigged cars and groups of foreign fighters smuggled into the country in recent weeks to carry out most of the suicide attacks that have killed about 300 people in past 10 days, senior American officers and intelligence officials say.

The insurgents exploded 135 car bombs in April, up from 69 in March, and more than in any other month in the two-year American occupation. For the first time last month, more than 50 percent of the car-bombings were suicide attacks, some remotely detonated, suggesting that Iraqis, who typically do not use that tactic, are being forced or duped into driving those missions, one top American general said.

Senior American officers predict that the insurgents, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose network has claimed responsibility for the deadliest suicide bombings, will not be able to sustain the level of attacks much longer.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune

May 9, 2006:

U.S. Envoy Forecasts Better Iraq Security

AMMAN, Jordan -- Iraq's prime minister-designate intends to implement a four-part plan to try to calm violence in his country, including a major push to secure Baghdad and nine other cities and demobilize militias, the U.S. ambassador said Tuesday.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told a gathering of business leaders in the Jordanian capital that he expected the formation of a national unity government among Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders in Iraq to "set the stage" to improve security conditions.

Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki has "broadly committed to a four-pillar initiative" to end violence in the country _ both the Sunni-led insurgency and sectarian attacks between Shiites and Sunnis, Khalilzad said.

Under the plan, "Iraqi security forces with coalition support will work to secure Baghdad as well as plan and initiate similar efforts in nine other key cities, such as Basra and Ramadi," Khalilzad said.

Read the rest at the Washington Post