Monday, April 17, 2006

Myers on Shinseki troop numbers: the guy just pulled them out of his ass

Well this is stunning. In a New York Times article, "General Defends Rumsfeld, With a Caveat," Gen. Richard B. Myers muses about where those troop numbers Gen. Eric K. Shinseki testified to Congress about really came from. Shinseki, says Myers, just pulled those numbers out of his ass.
General Shinseki, who commanded the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia, testified before Congress in February 2003 that peacekeeping operations in Iraq could require several hundred thousand troops, in part because it was a country with "the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems."

Days later, Mr. Wolfowitz, then the second-ranking official at the Pentagon, called the estimate "wildly off the mark," a sentiment that Mr. Rumsfeld repeated in comments that were widely interpreted in Washington and within the Pentagon as a rebuke of General Shinseki….

General Myers said he believed that news media coverage had overblown the confrontation and had failed to take note that General Shinseki had been "put in a corner" in questioning before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"General Shinseki was forced to make that comment under pressure, pulled a number out, wasn't wedded to it," General Myers said….
Is Myers that dumb? The military has an established formula for determining troop strengths for occupying US forces. And it's not as though the US media didn't discuss this several years ago (this is from a May 9, 2004, WaPo article entitled, "A Proven Formula for How Many Troops We Need").
When NATO forces went into Kosovo in 1999, they followed the same proven formula: 50,000 troops for a population of 2 million, one soldier for every 40 inhabitants. A recent Rand Corp. study by military analyst James Quinlivan concluded that the bare minimum ratio to provide security for the inhabitants of an occupied territory, let alone deal with an active insurgency, is one to 50.
In Iraq today, coalition forces number about 160,000, or one for every 160 Iraqis. (Even adding in an estimated 20,000 civilian security contractors working in Iraq, that still translates to one for every 140 Iraqis.)
Bonus quote from the always-prescient Paul Wolfowitz:
Mr. Wolfowitz also told Congress then that the force could be sufficiently smaller than General Shinseki had estimated because the Iraqis would welcome the Americans, and that unlike Bosnia, Iraq had no history of ethnic strife.

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