Iraq: How Many Troops?

So we’ve all gotten used to the idea of 140,000 troops in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush is going to splurge another 21,500 or so (actually, it turns out, about 35,000 since the 21,500 are combat troops and need a bit of support.) We know that the numbers of dead US military is about 3,100. If you’re really paying attention you might know there are over 47,000 non-mortal US casualties — from lacertions needing a sterile bandage to limbs and brain parts blown away.

Of course, per usual, this is not the whole story. Appearing from time to time, and last night from the mouth of Ted Kopple at NPR is the figure 100,000. They would be 100,000 contractors. Not military — though in large part ex military — doing much of the work the military did, in Vietnam for example: cooking, truck-driving, riding shotgun for the truck drivers, protection of the high and mighty. You name it they do it. AND, they are not being counted in troop size or in US casualties.

With at least 100,000 civilian contractors from the United States and elsewhere performing reconstruction and security duties in Iraq, the U.S. Senate’s current debate over troop levels has focused on only one part of America’s involvement in Iraq.

And this is from Ted Koppel who has, at other times, lauded the use of these contractors on the battle field.

Iraq: Birding

A friend has offered to set up a trip to see the birds of the Garden of Eden. Since the offer is contingent on my translating from Arabic the new Field Guide to the Birds of Iraq we may be too old to actually make the trip. Ever. It is rather stunning that in the midst of what we are hearing and seeing that anyone has time or concentration for field guides, birding or even looking at the sky….

The release of the ‘Birds of Iraq’ field-guide adds weight to the conservation movement that has started to emerge in the country. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003, the Mesopotamian Marshes – thought to be the site of the biblical Garden of Eden and home to 28 of Iraq’s Important Bird Areas – have been the focus of a major international programme to help restore their ecological and social-cultural heritage.

Birding Iraq

[thx Bob Whitson]

Woodward Wants His Reputation Back

Bob Woodward: Bush Misleads On Iraq

More on the Woodward book by David Sanger of the NY Times

Hey Hey Ho Ho Donald Rumsfeld’s Got To Go!

Retired Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and served as a senior military assistant to former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz had this to say before the Democratic Policy Committee today:

“Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build ‘his plan,’ which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace and set Iraq up for self-reliance,” Batiste said.

In addition, Rumsfeld “refused to acknowledge and even ignored the potential for the insurgency,” the retired general said. “At one point, he threatened to fire the next person who talked about the need for a post-war plan,” Batiste added.

He had more to say, as did other retired officers.

Maybe this is how spine is grown, one drop of marrow at a time.

Iraq: Getting Worser All the Time

It is perhaps fitting that in this week of Bush riding out once again to pimp his porn of war that U.S. troops are higher, at 140,000, than they’ve been since the peak of 160,000 during the Iraqi elections a year ago. U.S. deaths jumped from 43 in July to 62 in August.

The United States has expanded its force in Iraq to 140,000 troops, the most since January and 13,000 more than five weeks ago, the Pentagon said on Thursday, amid relentless violence in Baghdad and elsewhere.

U.S. Forces at 140,000

Over 67 Iraqis were killed on Thursday, 50 in one mortar attack alone, on an apartment building: Sunni on Shiia it seems.

Fact Box

The blasts flattened a multistory apartment building, buried women and children under mounds of rubble and sent terrified shoppers fleeing out of a major bazaar, authorities and witnesses said. The death toll included 16 children, an Iraqi police official said Friday.

The booming explosions rang out within minutes of each other around 6:30 p.m. in the city’s New Baghdad district. Interior ministry officials said Friday that they believed the blasts were caused by 12 to 18 rockets and a new type of highly flammable explosive. It was not clear whether the attack included car bombs and mortars as well.

WaPo: Timed Blasts

This grim news offsets the Iraqi government claim that civilian deaths in August dropped by 25%. I think I’ll wait until the morgues report in before having a taste of bitter hope.

A quarterly Pentagon report to Congress just out indicates that hoping for a taste of bitter hope would be premature.

“The levels of violence are up and the sectarian quality of the violence is particularly acute and disturbing.”

I haven’t found the report itself but here is one of many articles about it.

Pentagon Says Iraq Violence Spreading