Monday, March 05, 2007

"For Want of a Plan B"

This is how the U.S. went to war in Iraq?

Of all the comments that Donald Rumsfeld uttered during his near record run as the longest serving U.S. Secretary of Defense, the most notorious may be – to paraphrase the Secretary of Defense – “you go to, war with the army you have, not the army you want to have.”

Translated, that means that the Bush administration had no alternative strategy when they sent U.S. military forces into Iraq in March 2003.

As it turned out, the forces that fought those first six weeks to reach Baghdad didn’t need a Plan B.

But Iraqis had a Plan A and B. Plan A was inner directed and looked forward to a rapid withdrawal of the liberating coalition forces. Plan B was both inward and outward directed. Should the coalition troops start to take on the trappings of an army of occupation instead of an army of liberation, armed resistance would not only be used to settle interior disputes but would be directed toward the occupation until the foreigners decided to leave.

Over the weekend, the U.S. public learned that, once again, there is no alternative plan for the President’s “surge” strategy putting an additional 21,500 ground forces at renewed risk. That was the “between-the-lines interpretation ascribed by numerous foreign policy and military policy experts to a statement by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, that in effect, "Marines don’t talk about failure. They talk about accomplishing the mission.”

Well, just in lives lost and lives irretrievably changed, the countries of the coalition maintain the records. Iraqis have much less certainty – until the body of a relative gone missing suddenly shows up by the roadside.

On this, the first Monday of March, here are a few – shall we say “Plan A” statistics that were never thought about in 2001-2003 because no one in the administration thought about having a Plan B.

US KIA (Total to Date): 3,174 (Hostile 2,571, Non-hostile 603)
US KIA March 1-4 only : 10 (Hostile 1, Non-hostile 9)
US Wounded: (Total to Date) 23,417
Total Medical Air Evacuated 32,544
(Wounded as of Feb 3, 2007)

UK KIA 133
Other Coalition KIA 124

Iraq Coalition Casualty Count:
Iraqi civilians KIA 2005 to Present: 25, 442
Iraqi security KIA Pre-2005 1,300; 2005 to Present: 4,908
March 1-4, 106 civilians and 31 security personnel.

Iraqi government “official” statistics from April 28, 2005 to February 22, 2006, the date of the attack on the Golden Dome mosque in Samarra
Pre-Feb 2006: 4,397 security personnel and 25,026 Iraqi civilians dead.
Post-Feb 2006: 2,099 security personnel and 18,918 Iraqi civilians dead.

How many more will be killed or wounded “for want of a Plan B”?

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